Detroit News: 12 senators push for crackdown on campus assaults

Washington — A bipartisan group of 12 U.S. senators introduced legislation Thursday that would do more to protect students from sexual assault and require colleges and universities to do more to investigate allegations.

The Campus Accountability and Safety Act "would flip the current incentives of a broken system to provide real accountability and transparency from higher education institutions. The legislation would professionalize the response to and reporting of sexual assaults that occur on campuses to better protect and empower students, while also protecting the rights of accused students," said the sponsors that include Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Dean Heller, R-Nev., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Over the last year, there have been growing reports of questions about how colleges and universities are handling allegations of sexual assault — especially when star athletes are accused of wrongdoing.

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, a father of two teenage girls including one in college and one soon to start, also is cosponsoring the bill. He noted that many universities haven't done enough and the issue is severely underreported.

"A little over 40 percent of colleges have not had one investigation of sexual assualt in the last five years. How do you have 40 percent? It shows that they are not even paying attention to it," Peters said in an interview. "Young women are basically suffering in silence and in the shadows and they don't feel that there's support — and that's simply unacceptable."

Students should feel safe on college campuses, Peters said.

By:  David Shepardson
Source: Detroit News