Twelve U.S. senators introduced a "strengthened version" of an act that aims to hold university administrators accountable for acts of sexual violence on their campuses.
The bill sponsors include Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., Dean Heller, R-Nev., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
The Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA), which was first introduced last year, would set uniform regulations for the disciplinary procedure concerning cases of sexual assault. Under the law, colleges would be required to adhere to several new initiatives including providing confidential advisors for victims of sexual harassment, violence and stalking, extending the time bracket in which students are able to report an incident after it takes place, and requiring investigators to notify the accuser and the accused within 24 hours if disciplinary action is pursued. Students at every U.S. University will be surveyed about their experiences with sexual violence for the government to gain a more accurate picture of college cases of sexual assault.
This information would then be published biannually.
While CASA never made it to the Senate floor last year, supporters of the bill said they are convinced that it will be successful this time. Since the initial bill was published, the bipartisan group of 12 senators sought input from a range of additional sources—including survivors of sexual assault, college students, law enforcement officials and university administrators—to put forward a second version of the act backed by further research.
The new legislation would also increase the monetary fine that universities face for violations of the Federal Clery Act. The maximum penalty of $35,000 per violation would increase, allowing charges of up to $150,000 per violation. Financial penalties would be collected and distributed to campuses through a grant program supporting victims and survivors of sexual assault, and for conducting research on the issue.
Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, colleges and universities are legally obligated to provide an environment that is free from discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs and activities.