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Gillibrand signs on to bipartisan bill taking aim at sexual assault on campuses

WASHINGTON – New, bipartisan legislation introduced Wednesday takes aim at sexual assaults on college and university campuses by protecting and empowering students, and strengthening accountability and transparency for institutions—including establishing stiff penalties for non-compliance with the legislation’s new standards for training, data and best practices.

Among several cosponsors is Sen Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY.)

Amid troubling reports of cases of sexual violence at colleges and universities, the Campus Safety and Accountability Act,  announced on Wednesday, is intended to confront a scourge of sexual violence against students, as available statistics show that approximately 19 percent of undergraduate women have been the victims of sexual assault. Because many crimes are not reported, that number could be substantially higher.

Several survivors and advocates joined the Senators and spoke in support of the legislation, including Annie Clark and Andrea Pino with “End Rape on Campus,” Anna a student survivor from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN “Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network,” the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization, and Wagatwe Wanjuki, an organizer with “Know Your IX,” a national survivor-run, student-driven campaign to end campus sexual violence, and a survivor from Tufts University.

 Currently, an American woman who attends college is more likely to be a victim of sexual assault than a woman who does not attend college. At the same time, institutions of higher education across the country have been unable, or unwilling, to adequately address the problem. The current lax oversight of the federal laws on the books has the perverse effect of incentivizing colleges to encourage non-reporting, under-reporting, and non-compliance with the already weak standards under current federal law.

The bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act will make it in the schools’ immediate best interest to take proactive steps to protect their students and rid their campuses of sexual predators.