Sexual Assault—Can surveys solve the campus issue?

By: Bridget Creel—Special Report Summer Associate

Despite the fact that school does not start until next month, college campus issues, specifically concerned with sexual assault, have generated a response from members of the Senate.

This morning, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would require all colleges to conduct anonymous sexual assault surveys. If the colleges failed to administer the surveys, the Department of Education would impose financial consequences.

The outcome of the surveys would then be to publish the experiences of sexually assaulted students online.

According to the Associated Press, “This bill would require campuses to designate advocates who would confidentially discuss available options with victims and to develop an agreement with local law enforcement over how such cases are handled. It would also increase penalties for universities that did not comply.”

An interesting section of the bill states that victims who come forward to discuss their experience with sexual assault will automatically be pardoned from violations such as underage drinking. A unique—yet effective way to get victims to come forward, but it could pose other complications.

Back in January, President Obama created a task force to administer efforts to prevent sexual assault on college campuses. It addressed certain schools who did not deal rightfully with sexual abuse cases.

The current bill faces several speed bumps before it can be passed and there is no guarantee, with limited work days left for Congress. There is strong support by several senators for the bill, which has strong intentions, however the outcome is unpredictable.