Do you find it challenging to keep up with the latest news, research, and tools related to sexual assault? The national spotlight on sexual assault has led to increasingly rapid developments in the field, some of which have implications for how we serve survivors. Unfortunately, advocates are rarely afforded the luxury of time to read and stay up to date, so it’s all too easy to overlook a helpful tool or research study. To that end, I’ll be writing a new, semi-regular #TBT (Throwback Thursday) series for CALCASA highlighting available resources and information you may have missed relevant to intervention and advocacy.

House Subcommittee Hearing on Campus Sexual Assault

Lisa Maatz from the American Association of University Women testifies before the House Subcommittee hearing on campus sexual assault.

On September, 10, 2015, the the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), held a hearing titled, “Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault on College Campuses.” Four experts on campus policy weighed in on the challenges of dealing with sexual assault: Dana Scaduto, General Counsel at Dickinson College, Dr. Penny Rue, Vice President for Campus Life at Wake Forest University, Lisa Maatz, Vice President of Governmental Relations at the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and Joseph Cohn, Legislative and Policy Director at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The panelists testified to the complexities of campus sexual assault cases and the challenges campuses face in adjudicating them. They voiced frustration about the complicated, sometimes conflicting patchwork of state and federal laws pertaining to sexual assault, student privacy and safety. Dr. Rue and Ms. Scaduto, both campus administrators, talked about ways the government can better support campuses in their efforts to respond to campus sexual assault. Ms. Scaduto proposed the creation of safe harbor laws for colleges and universities that show good faith in complying with Clery and Title IX. Dr. Rue criticized the notion that campuses care more about their reputations than the rights and experiences of students, and highlighted the strategies universities are using to assess campus attitudes and educate students.
Mr. Cohn, from the bipartisan organization FIRE, asserted that the rights to due process for accused students need to be strengthened. His testimony supported the controversial idea that campuses refrain from adjudicating sexual assault cases entirely and instead turn cases over to law enforcement, a strategy that has been denounced by both advocates and survivors. He denigrated the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA) for not providing strong enough protections for accused students, while voicing support for the provisions included in the SAFE Campus Act and FAIR Campus Act.
Lisa Maatz spoke from her experiences as a former executive director of a domestic violence agency and director of a campus women’s center, saying, “When campus environments are hostile because of sexual harassment and violence, students can’t learn. It’s that simple, and that devastating.” Ms. Maatz highlighted two pieces of AAUW-sponsored legislation – the Survivor Outreach and Support (SOS) Campus Act, which would require schools to partner with community-based sexual assault agencies and establish independent victim advocates on campus; and the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency on (HALT) Campus Sexual Violence Act that would increase funding for Title IX and Clery Act investigations and mandate climate surveys thereby providing crucial information for addressing sexual assault.
Watch the full hearing on “Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault on College Campuses” below, and let us know what you think in the comments!



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