Magazine News Volume 69, Issue 3

Bill Introduced to Curb College Sexual Assault

The Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency on Campus Sexual Violence Act, or HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act, was introduced on the 47th anniversary of Title IX.  Title IX states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”  The HALT Act hopes to uphold Title IX’s principles by increasing transparency and reporting on campus sexual violence.  

Representative Jackie Speier, who introduced and cosponsors the bill, hopes to further prevent campus sexual violence and hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes: “Students at colleges and universities across the country continue to report unequal access to education due to sexual harassment and assault. The grim reality is 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are destined to become victims of sexual violence on campus…  No institution of higher learning should be allowed to sweep these crimes under the rug or blame and shame survivors.”

Local Congressman, Mark DeSaulnier, supported the bill and asserts that schools should take responsibility for campus safety: “The pervasiveness of sexual assault on college campuses across the country is appalling.  I am encouraged that survivors of these acts are feeling increasingly empowered to come forward, but institutions of higher education must be held responsible for implementing prevention efforts and enforcing policies against sexual violence on campus to protect all students and survivors, including students in the LGBTQ+ communities.  The HALT on Campus Sexual Violence Act, which I strongly support, puts the onus on institutions – not survivors – to address and prevent sexual violence and holds those institutions accountable when they ignore violence and harassment on their campuses.”

Desaulnier is not alone in this assertion.  At Las Lomas, Kerry Ginsberg, a Human & Social Development teacher, also believes schools should be responsible for students’ safety: “The onus should not be on potential victims to protect themselves; rather, the whole institution and student body should be actively trained in preventing assault…  Sexual assault is inherently traumatizing — physically, emotionally, and pyschologically — and the impacts of that trauma can last a lifetime, especially if not properly treated…  The reporting process needs to be handled with care.  One thing colleges can do is implement the “Callisto” reporting system, which allows survivors to report on their terms…  Then, colleges can make sure survivors have trained victim advocates to support them through everything that comes after the reporting process, and of course make sure that perpetrators have real consequences for their actions.”

While the future of this bill is unknown, many hope for it to pass into law and take noticeable effect on students’ safety.  “The HALT Act ensures that universities take every possible step to eradicate sexual violence on college campuses,”  said Representative, Brian Fitzpatrick, who also introduced and cosponsors the bill.  “Our institutions of higher education must be held accountable for lax policies against sexual violence occurring on their campuses. Young women and men attending college deserve the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive in a safe environment, free from fear.”