Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gop Makes Vow on Campus Rape

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Gop Makes Vow on Campus Rape

Article excerpt

A bill requiring colleges and universities to do more to fight campus sexual assaults is unlikely to pass this year, but an influential senator said Tuesday that the issue would remain a priority when Republicans take control of Congress in 2015.

"I don't understand the sensitivities that universities have about rape on campus," Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican who will become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said at the beginning of a subcommittee hearing. Grassley has said that campus rape should be treated as the crime it is and not as a violation of campus conduct codes, as some universities have done.

"It's high time to make sure that a crime is a crime wherever it's committed and treat it the same way," Grassley said. "And when it's treated universally the same way, we'll have less rape on campuses." The hearing came as William Paterson University and Ramapo College have been roiled by unrelated incidents 11 days apart in which female students reported that they were sexually assaulted in campus dormitories, allegedly by fellow students. In both cases, police were called and arrests were made.

'Lost trust'

Speaking in broad terms, and not about any specific cases, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a sponsor, with Grassley, of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, said she has "heard from far too many survivors of campus sexual assault that they have felt re- victimized by the process of trying to seek justice."

"The police should be the first responders when a crime this serious occurs, but the vast majority of police departments have responded to reports with victim blaming and belittlement, and as a result, survivors have lost trust in law enforcement," Gillibrand said.

A White House task force in April, citing data showing one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college, called for each campus to conduct a "climate survey" about attitudes and experiences.

The Justice Department is working with Rutgers University to develop the survey, and it could be rolled out nationwide in 2016.

Along with asking whether students have experienced sexual violence, the survey asks whether students know where to go if they do experience it and whether they believe the university would handle it properly. …

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