Sex Assault Bill Would Lift OCR Funding, Require Climate Surveys

June 5, 2015

WASHINGTON -- Two lawmakers introduced a bill on Thursday designed to combat sexual assault on college campuses. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Representatives Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, and Patrick Meehan, a Republican from Pennsylvania, would provide $5 million per year in additional funding to the Department of Education's understaffed Office for Civil Rights; require the department to issue stiff penalties for colleges that don't comply with the nondiscrimination law Title IX; increase penalties for violating the Clery Act, which requires colleges to disclose information on campus crimes, from $35,000 to $100,000; and require colleges to conduct biennial climate surveys. The bill, called the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) Campus Sexual Violence Act, would also create an interagency task force to increase coordination between the agencies dealing with campus sexual assault, and require colleges to sign memorandums of understanding with local police.

“No student should have to fear sexual assault on campus and no parent should fear their child is in danger when they send them to college,” said Meehan, who is so far the only Republican member among the 27 sponsors of the bill. “As a prosecutor, I worked closely with the victims of sexual assault on campus and I saw firsthand the need to improve protections for survivors. This legislation takes sensible steps forward to strengthen protections for victims and it will help them access the resources they need in the wake of attack.”

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