(BOSTON) – On Tuesday June 2, Senator Michael Moore (D-Millbury) and Representative Daniel Donahue (D Worcester) testified before the Joint Committee on Higher Education in support of H. 1 041/S.679, of which they are lead sponsors. The legislation, an act concerning sexual violence on higher education campuses, presents a comprehensive framework to increase transparency, access to support services and data on sexual assault, while requiring students and employees to receive the best educational programming and training available in the field.
“I am proud to join Senator Moore in sponsoring this legislation in response to the calls from the public and our students to improve how we prevent, address, and educate about sexual violence on our campuses,” said Representative Donahue. “This bill is a step towards fostering a safer, healthier environment on campuses and ensuring that students and faculty can access the resources and support services they need.”
The legislation complements recently released federal guidelines regarding Title IX, the civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in federally funded education programs. The guidelines stipulate that all schools take immediate and effective steps to respond to sexual violence, including a full investigation into any incident about which a school has or should have knowledge. Many schools have struggled to adapt their own administrative disciplinary procedures to meet these standards for the wide variance of circumstances, including gender differences, contradictory accounts, and the many options to protect victim’s privacy.
“While we count among our rank some of the most esteemed colleges and universities in the world, sexual assault presents a range of issues that far exceed traditional administrative discipline mechanisms” said Moore. “We must provide a comprehensive framework that will protect our students to the best of our ability, and ensure the proper handling of any alleged sexual assault on campus.”
More specifically, the bill requires institutions of higher education to provide additional information about sexual violence in annual crime repots, and provides oversight from the Department of Higher Education through a Public Safety Officer, who will review campus safety policies. All schools would also be required to hold annual mandatory sexual assault prevention training for students, as well as providing them information about sexual assault policies, and resources for victims.