Safe Campus Act complicates reporting assaults

November 4, 2015 Local, News

The Safe Campus Act, or commonly referred to by opponents as the “Unsafe Campus Act,” is a bill being considered in Congress that would change the way colleges handle sexual assault. Under current policy, if a student reports a case of sexual assault against him or herself, he or she does not have to report the incident to the police. The college is allowed to hold its own investigation into the accusation in an effort to make victims more comfortable in their surroundings. They can rearrange dorms and classrooms so that the victim does not have to be around their assaulter, as well as keep the police uninvolved so no lawyers or charges have to be handled by the college students.

According to the Safe Campus Act, this would no longer be allowed at colleges or universities. If a student wishes to report a case of sexual assault, the college or the student must also report the case to the police. There will then be a public investigation and, most likely, a lawsuit in which the victim will have to testify in order to receive any protection. The college will no longer be allowed to take any precautionary measures against the accused to protect the victim without informing the police.

Republican Representatives Matt Salmon of Arizona and Pete Sessions and Kay Granger of Texas are sponsoring the bill. Many organizations working with sexual assault victims are claiming this bill will be disastrous for colleges. Admitting to being a victim of sexual assault is hard enough; now students also need to go public with their accusations and cope with full trials while continuing to juggle their college life.

Another criticism of the Safe Campus Act is that the bill only applies to cases of sexual assault—not incidents of selling drugs, stealing, or physical assault. For other illegal acts, the college is allowed to reprimand the student at fault without reporting to the police, but sexual assault is the only crime that must be processed publicly. Many advocates of organizations that aid sexual assault victims are distraught by this potential law; they say the bill only emphasizes how uneducated Congress is when it comes to handling delicate matters such as sexual assault on a college campus.

Rollins Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils will host a Safe Campus Act Forum on November 6 at 12:30 p.m. in the Bush Auditorium. A college attorney will attend the event to discuss the act and how it could potentially affect Rollins students in the future should it pass.

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