Iowa senator pushes for college sexual assault reform

St. Ambrose University

QUAD CITIES (KWQC) – Sexual assault on college campuses has been in the national spotlight for a few years now. While advocates say some schools have come a long way they say there is still work that needs to be done.

“This proposal is a step in the right direction,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R – Iowa).

This afternoon, Sept. 21, 2016 Ernst pushed for support of a bipartisan plan to combat sexual assault on college campuses nationwide.

“The “Campus Accountability and Safety Act” offers protections and supports for our students, and it standardizes the response and streamlines the reporting across the United States,” she said.

The “Campus Accountability and Safety Act” was introduced in the senate in February 2015. Today Ernst and others pushed for legislation to move further.

“I’m asking for support, whether it’s in the senate or the house, we need to get this through, we need to get this on the president’s desk,” the senator said.

The legislation would require some new things, including schools to send out a survey asking students about their experiences with sexual violence and harassment. This is something the University of Iowa did last year.

Data they published from a 2015 survey showed less than half of the entire student body took the survey. But of those that did, 21 percent of undergraduate women reported being raped, as did 3.8 percent of undergraduate men.

The proposed legislation would also require a specific campus page providing a description of Title IX, and contact information for the schools coordinator.

Some area schools are already working toward these goals, including St. Ambrose University.

The davenport school said it has already implemented many of the proposed changes.

“It’s both in compliance with laws and regulations that have come down by the federal government and also part of the university just trying to be proactive,” said the school’s Title IX Coordinator Megan Levetzow.

And student advocates are happy to hear more schools may be required to head in a similar direction.

“Everyone needs to say something, and everybody needs to do something, and it’s not just like one college, everybody needs to do it and get behind it,” said Co- President of SAU’s Sexual Assault Awareness Team Jen Vyncke.

The “Campus Accountability and Safety Act” has 37 co-sponsors within the United States senate. Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk is one of them.

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