Higher Ed Associations Submit Comments on Campus Accountability and Safety Act
Sexual assault on campus is an urgent issue and a topic of discussion at colleges and universities across the country, in the national news, and even in the Obama administration. The Department of Education is currently investigating 77 institutions for possibly violating rules governing the handling of sexual violence and harassment cases, and in April, the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault released a report on steps colleges and universities can take to prevent sexual violence on campus.
Additionally, on July 30, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA), legislation designed to “further protect and empower students and strengthen accountability and transparency for institutions.” While CUPA-HR certainly supports efforts to ensure that incidents of sexual assault are reported and investigated thoroughly and that both victims and the accused are treated fairly and in accordance with the law, as The Hill blogger Wendy McElroy so aptly put it, the devil’s in the details with CASA.
In response to a request for comments on CASA, CUPA-HR and several other higher education organizations signed on to a letter sent by the American Council on Education to Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander outlining some of our concerns with the legislation. In the letter, we made recommendations around several provisions in the proposed bill, including the role and responsibilities of confidential advisors, the purpose and use of climate surveys, the scope of required memoranda of understanding with local law enforcement agencies, Title IX and Clery Act training and reporting requirements and others. It is our hope that the HELP Committee will use our comments and the concerns we raised to clarify and strengthen the legislation.
We’ll keep you posted on the latest developments related to CASA and our advocacy efforts around it.