Hillary Clinton releases plan for confronting campus sexual assault
Appearing at a “Women for Hillary” event Monday at the University of Northern Iowa, Hillary Clinton outlined her vision for confronting the alarming reality of sexual assault on college campuses in America.
Noting that an estimated one in five women report being sexually assaulted while in college, Clinton said she would build on President Obama’s approach to the problem by working to provide comprehensive support to survivors, ensure a fair process for all and increase prevention.
Clinton’s commitment to tackling the crisis of campus sexual assault is a continuation of her lifelong record of fighting for women and girls. As First Lady, she supported the creation of the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. And as senator, she co-sponsored the 2005 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and twice introduced legislation to ensure that rape and incest victims had access to emergency contraception in hospital emergency rooms.
From her remarks at the UNI rally:
“Thanks to the courage and determination of survivors and advocates, America is waking up to this challenge. And on campuses across the country, including very impressively this campus, people are coming together and coming up with solutions. I was really impressed by what I heard has been happening here at U and I since 2000 — you got the first grant from that office Bonnie Campbell first led all those years ago, to begin having what is and certainly continues to be a very challenging conversation: everybody at the table, listening to people, coming up with a way to approach this problem and try to end it.
“President Obama’s administration has worked hard to shine a bright light on campus sexual assault and I intend to keep talking about it and building on that. Here’s why: right now in too many places, survivors don’t know where to go to go and find help. Some campuses don’t even offer support services including counseling and healthcare, so a lot of young women are truly lost and left out. Others present a maze of bureaucracy that forces survivors to navigate that without any real help at one of the most painful times of their lives.
“As President, I’ll fight to make sure every campus offers every survivor the support she needs, and we’ll make sure that these serves are comprehensive, confidential, and coordinated.
“I want to add, too, that although the survivors of sexual assault are predominantly women, this also happens to men. It happens to the transgender community– it happens to others as well. So no matter gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race– services have to be there for everyone.
“Now too often the process of addressing sexual assault on campuses is confusing and convoluted. And many who do choose, which is a hard choice I recognize, to report in the criminal justice system fear that their voices will be dismissed instead of heard. We need to ensure a fair process for all involved, whether it’s in campus disciplinary proceedings or a criminal justice system. Rape is a crime wherever it happens and schools and schools have an obligation — I think it’s both a legal obligation and a moral obligation — to protect every student’s right to get an education free from discrimination, free from fear, particularly as to one’s safety. So reports of sexual assault need to be treated with the seriousness, professionalism, and fairness they deserve.
“Now we have a great resource in our nation’s law students who on many campuses can help to navigate this process. There are some successful models of law school clinics across the country where students are already working alongside experienced attorneys. Back when I was in law school I volunteered for the New Haven Legal Services program. It’s one of the best things I did in Law School, it’s part of what inspired me to go work for the children’s defense fund after I graduated. And so I’m looking for good ideas that come from anywhere. I’ve heard some great ones upstairs. And I want to commend a young men from one of the fraternities here on campus, who has taken on the issue– the fraternity has taken on the issue of working to try to change attitudes, to educate not only their fraternity members but the broader campus and event beginning to reach out in to the community. And I want to also commend a mentoring program for silence prevention that was originated her on campus.
“There are good smart solutions, we just need more of them. We need to spread them so that people have more access to them. There are the issues of responsibility and respect that start long before students arrive on campus. I don’t think it’s enough to try and get a better response once an assault has happened. We need to stop sexual assault from happening in the first place and we need strong prevention efforts to change attitudes associated with violence.
“We need to be spreading the ideas and talking to young people — literally starting in high school — about issues like consent and bystander prevention. This is a lot bigger than a single conversation at freshman orientation or, as I heard earlier, an online program that everyone has to take that’s kind of in isolation. People have to talk about this, they have to listen to each other, they have to try to understand that this is a serious problem that can be solved. This is something that everybody can play a part in addressing. So today I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault: don’t let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed. And we’re with you as you go forward.
“And let’s remember sexual assault doesn’t just happen on our campuses. it happens in the workplace, it happens in the military. For too many, it happens in homes and in their communities. So we need to take this on as a broader campaign against violence that stalks and afflicts women and girls at home and across the world.”