Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fraternity and Sorority Organizations Back off Sexual Assault Bill after McCaskill Protests

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fraternity and Sorority Organizations Back off Sexual Assault Bill after McCaskill Protests

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON * Last month, Sen. Claire McCaskill wrote letters to national fraternity and sorority organizations and three fraternities on the University of Missouri campus to protest their support of a bill on campus sexual assaults that the senator opposes.

This month, those organizations withdrew their backing, the latest example of the complex and highly charged debate over campus sexual assaults.

McCaskill, D-Mo., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., are co- sponsors of their own bill that attempts to clarify and standardize procedures campuses should use when allegations of sexual assault are made. The Campus Accountability and Safety Act focuses on ways to encourage victims to step forward and provide them support in that process.

The rival bill by Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., the Safe Campus Act, would require that allegations of sexual assault be handled by local police before campus discipline proceedings could proceed.

Salmon has touted the measure as a guarantee of legal due process for alleged victims and perpetrators. But McCaskill and Gillibrand argued in letters in October to the organizations that Salmon's bill would discourage victims from stepping forward. McCaskill also wrote three fraternities at the University of Missouri raising questions about their national organizations' support of the Salmon bill.

"After listening to our member fraternities and partners, the NIC is withdrawing its support of the Safe Campus Act," said a statement on the website of the North-American Intrafraternity Conference, which represents more than 70 fraternities. "The ultimate goal of campus reform is to provide a safer environment for students to further their education."

"Our member organizations and NPC leadership have listened to the groundswell of concern among our members and are refocusing our legislative agenda," the National Panhellenic Conference, which represents 26 sororities, said in a statement on its website. "To that end, NPC is withdrawing its support of the Safe Campus Act. …

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