One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college
(May 2) – The House approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Janet Buckner and Rep. Barbara McLachlan that would add more guidelines and protections around sexual misconduct and violence in higher education institutes in Colorado.
“Our current policy has a problem when we are seeing studies that one in five women and one in 16 men experience sexual assault during college. And what’s even more troubling is that only about 12 percent of victims actually report their assault,” said Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora. “Sexual misconduct poses a serious threat to the safety of our students and interferes with our students’ ability to learn. This bill ensures a fair and consistent response to sexual misconduct in higher education settings and creates equal rights for reporting and responding to parties in an incident.”
SB19-007 creates a fair and consistent response to sexual misconduct in higher education settings to ensure that all students know how to report abuse and know that the administrative process will be fair for both parties. It requires institutions of higher learning to adopt policies that clearly outline the process for survivors of sexual misconduct, to provide support services for survivors and to distribute information across campus to inform students of the institution’s policies and procedures. Additionally, the bill requires the Department of Higher Education to convene a biennial working group that will study best practices in order to prevent and raise awareness surrounding sexual misconduct.
“This bill will help get rid of sexual violence and abuse on campus. While we are waiting for the federal government to adopt and clarify the law, we are making sure our state laws are ready to follow and maintain protections for survivors,” said Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango. “This is not a one-size-fits-all bill but rather puts minimum requirements for policies regarding reporting and procedures for investigations for all higher education institutions.”
In 2017, the Trump administration rescinded guidance for institutions of higher education on how they should address sexual assault under the federal law, Title IX. The lack of federal direction means that states like Colorado have to step up to develop policies that promote and ensure the safety of students on campuses around the state or risk losing important protections.
SB19-007 passed by a bipartisan vote of 54-9. It passed unanimously out of the House Education committee. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk.