WWMT CBS 3 West Michigan: Lawmakers call on congress to pass ALERT Act to protect college, university students

Several United States senators and representatives are calling on Congress to pass the Accountability of Leaders in Education to Report Title IX Investigations (ALERT) Act, which is a bipartisan, bicameral piece of legislation that lawmakers said would protect college students from sexual assault.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich.; U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas; U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Lansing; U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Kalamazoo; and U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Port Huron, back the act that they said it's the next step in preventing students from being sexually assaulted.

Deborah J. Vagins, The American Association of University Women senior vice president, public policy and research, said there are current laws in place that are supposed to protect students but she said those laws are not working.

The ALERT Act would require all federally funded universities and colleges to submit an annual certification to the U.S. Secretary of Education. Leadership would be required to read any reports of sexual assault committed by a university or college employee then certify they reviewed it.

The abuse of Nassar and Michigan State University leadership turning a blind eye were referenced throughout a press conference held on Tuesday.

Lawmakers said leadership should be expected to do their job and the act would require that of the university leaders.

"To have a leader of an institution say 'I don't know. I don't read those things.' Are you kidding me? A fundamental responsibility of colleges and university is to provide a safe and secure environment as much as humanly possible," said Mitchell.

By:  Callie Rainey
Source: WWMT CBS 3 West Michigan