Kaine introduces bill to support survivors of sexual assaults on college campuses
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced legislation to help provide support for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses.
The Survivor Outreach and Support on Campus Act (S.O.S. Campus Act) would require colleges and universities to ensure that an independent advocate is available to support survivors of sexual assault on every campus. Last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVosannounced a controversial decision to re-examine Obama-era campus sexual assault policy. The S.O.S. Campus Act is cosponsored by Senators Diane Feinstein, Mazie Hirono and Tammy Baldwin, and Congresswoman Susan Davis introduced a companion version of the bill in the House this week.
“Last week the Trump Administration made a disappointing decision to start a process of deciding whether to roll back Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors. Any policy that deters or discourages a survivor of sexual assault from speaking out and seeking justice is not progress,” Kaine said. “It’s clear that Congress must lead on this issue. The S.O.S. Campus Act takes a step toward providing survivors of sexual assault the support they need on campus. The bill will help connect survivors to counseling resources, medical care, and legal information, providing a valuable support network.”
The legislation would require every institution of higher education that receives federal funding to designate an independent advocate for campus sexual assault prevention and response. This advocate would be responsible for ensuring that survivors of sexual assault – regardless of whether they decide to report the crime – have access to:
- Emergency and follow-up medical care
- Guidance on reporting assaults to law enforcement
- Medical forensic or evidentiary exams
- Crisis intervention, ongoing counseling and assistance throughout the process
- Information on their legal rights
Local Rape Crisis Centers and other community-based organizations are currently providing many of these services in communities and on campuses around the nation. The legislation recognizes the importance of these partnerships by requiring that universities either consult with or partner with these organizations to ensure that survivors get the services they need. The advocate will also conduct a public information campaign on the campuses.
Kaine first introduced earlier versions of the legislation in the 113th and 114th Congresses.