A bill introduced this Wednesday, July 29 if passed could make it not only easier to adjudicate college sexual assault cases, but also make them fairer for the accused. The legislation, deemed the Safe Campus Act, provides due process protections for students accused of raping a fellow student.
Currently, colleges and universities hold the responsibility for settling these matters, rather than law enforcement. This bill would not take the responsibility out of these institutions’ hands, however, it would expand law enforcement’s role in these proceedings.
Critics of the legislation say involving law enforcement to a greater degree will deter victims of sexual assault from coming forward, for fear of getting police involved or for fear of subjecting the accused to harsh criminal penalties.
Key Features of the Safe Campus Bill
- Alleged victims of sexual assault would have to report the incident to law enforcement before they could initiate a campus disciplinary hearing.
- Would allow alleged victims to seek campus-provided, non-punitive services without having to make a police report. Services might include counseling or alternative housing.
- Both victims and the accused would have the right to obtain all relevant material evidence in a timely manner.
- Reduce potential conflicts of interest by limiting roles of individuals involved. For example, individuals who serve as victim counselors could not also serve as the prosecutor.
- Allows both parties to retain attorneys for representation.
Colleges and universities are not law enforcement. They are not trained in due process rights of the accused. Should this bill pass, individuals accused of sexual assault on campus can opt to retain a criminal defense attorney to represent them throughout these proceedings.
For more information on the Safe Campus Act, its key features, and what this could mean for future college sexual assault cases, visit: