The House of Representatives will review a new provision to the Violence Against Women Act on crime against women to address the need for sexual violence prevention programs on college campuses.
Senator Robert Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania re-introduced a new provision on Jan. 24 called the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, or the Campus SaVE Act for short.
A goal of the Campus SaVE Act is to revise college and university campuses’ annual security report policies. The act requires the inclusion of crimes that victims are unable to report.
Sexual assaults are constituted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health as inappropriate touching, sexual intercourse without consent (including attempted intercourse) and molestation.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 27 percent of college women have claimed to be victims of unwanted sexual contact.
Victims fail to or refuse to report 90 percent of sexual assaults.
The occurrence of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking incidents in addition to the occurrence of violence that is motivated by the victim’s nationality will be included in the annual security report.
The second part of the Campus SaVE Act ensures that colleges and universities will raise awareness, create prevention programs for sexual violence and establish protective measures for victims.
Julie Pham, a 19-year-old business major at Cal State Fullerton, is skeptical about the effectiveness of the annual security report revisions.
“The word violence is enough to scare people away,” said Pham, “If there is a lot of violence happening at certain schools, a lot of people wouldn’t want to attend, and schools could see a drop in their enrollment.”
In the event that a sexual assault occurs, schools are to assist victims in confidentiality.
School officials must provide victims with a documentation of their rights and options, along with contact information for legal assistance, counseling and health services.
Victims will also be presented with options of changing schedules, living arrangements or work situations in order to preserve their safety.
Doug Hartman, an office member of Sen. Casey, emphasized that having campuses participate is not enough.
“Students must be aware that those programs actually exist,” he said.
New students and faculty are the primary target audience for the prevention and awareness programs.
According to the bill, these prevention and awareness programs will require schools to explain how a victim’s confidentiality will be protected, the possible protective measures and disciplinary actions that an individual receives, and the procedures to follow if such an offenses were to occur.
Though the chances of the Campus SaVE Act being reauthorized with the Violence Against Women Act is unknown, the offices of Sen. Casey remain hopeful as the bill goes through the House of Representative’s consideration.
The cost estimates have not yet been reported, according to The Library of Congress.
Bill Julius, Ph.D, a CSUF political science professor at Cal State Fullerton, said the Campus SaVE Act will encourage victims to come forth.
Julius said a lot of sexual violence does not get reported because victims do not know how to report the incident. He added that victims feel that even if they do report the incidence, nobody is going to do anything about it and they will be embarrassed.
The new provision has the potential to pass because of women’s prominence in population and in elections said Julius.
“They’re the most important group,” said Julius, “If they can get it to come up for a vote, it will pass because of how front and centered women have been in elections and political debates.”
If the provisions of the Campus SaVE Act were to pass, Julius predicts that a new office for outreach would have to be created to organize all resources required.