October 9, 2014 — Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) visited the University of Missouri on Tuesday as part of a statewide tour to collect feedback on how to bolster the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (S 2692), which was introduced earlier this year, the AP/Washington Times reports (Ballentine, AP/Washington Times, 10/7).
The legislation would require every college and university in the U.S. to conduct an anonymous survey of students about their experiences with sexual assault on campus and post the results online.
In addition, the measure would increase penalties levied against schools that fail to address sexual assault on campus. The bill also would increase penalties under the Clery Act, a federal law that requires universities that receive federal funding to disclose campus crime information.
The measure also would mandate that universities designate an adviser to act as a confidential resource for students who have been sexually assaulted.
Under the bill, colleges would not be allowed to penalize students who in good faith reveal other violations, such as underage drinking, while reporting a sexual assault.
In addition, the bill would bar athletic departments or other campus groups from handling sexual assault complaints for participants in their own division. The bill also aims to coordinate response efforts with local law enforcement authorities (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/31).
Comments From McCaskill, Students
McCaskill said during the appearance, "The step that's most important is making sure students are in that room and students are aware and that students are fully participating, that students take on some ownership of improving this whole system."
Some students who attended the discussion said that policy changes are not enough to stop the assaults. University of Missouri Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention Center Presentation Coordinator Kelsey Burns said she was sexually assaulted during her first week on campus and noted that survivors of such attacks often do not report the assaults because they fear they will be mistreated. She said she "didn't think it would matter" if she reported her assault.
The University of Missouri has been criticized for its handling of sexual assault cases in the past and recently implemented some changes to try to address the issue (AP/Washington Times, 10/7).