Why we need to oppose the Safe Campus Act

Brittney Christ

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We need to protect our rape victims on campus, and the Safe Campus Act is the last thing that will do that.

The House Education and Workforce committee recently heard witnesses testify on campus sexual assault. However, not a single one of the witnesses were student survivors with firsthand experience. The big topic was the freshly introduced Safe Campus Act.

The “Safe” Campus Act requires the victim to report the assault to the police, “which would actually make campuses dramatically less safe by preventing colleges from punishing a student for sexual assault unless the victim goes to the cops first,” said Feministing.

Feministing continued, “The bill is in clear conflict with Title IX, the 40-year-old anti-discrimination law that requires schools to act to prevent violence, respond to it after it occurs, and remedy its effects — one of which can be the traumatizing lingering presence of a victim’s attacker on campus.”

Faculty Against Rape said, “Rape and sexual assault have been under-reported, both on college campuses and in the general population because of the failure of institutions to respect survivors and to hold perpetrators accountable. Making a police report a pre-condition to an investigation and adjudication of rape and sexual assault by campus officials is likely to deter survivors from coming forward.

“Moreover, for survivors who choose to report their rape to the criminal justice system off campus, the process is long and complicated, often interfering with their academic study and leaving them trapped on a campus that their perpetrator attends while the case moves through the criminal justice system.”

Many survivors do no want to report to the police for these very reasons. Some victims are assaulted or abused by friends or former (or current) partners, and they do not want to see their attackers in jail but just removed from the school. Some states still don’t recognize men as victims of rape either, which leaves their cases hopeless in the criminal justice system.

The Safe Campus Act would make it possible to suspend a student who cheats on a test, sells drugs in a dorm, or beats up a classmate but not a student who rapes.

Naturally, survivors are fighting to oppose this bill that will only make the situation worse.

Colleges should provide support for the victim and take actions against the accused while the legal system is processing the assault, resulting in the assailant being expelled from the situation. Even if the victim chooses not to take legal action, the assailant should be removed.

Just think, do we want a college investigating a murder? No. We would want the police to handle it, just like we would want the police investigating a sexual assault. But we shouldn’t require that the victims go to the police first, given the circumstances.

Vote against the Safe Campus Act to support the victims and the survivors of campus sexual assault.