A truly motley crew of Senators has introduced a bill that would crack down on schools that fail to address campus sexual assault. But unlike window dress-y efforts that amount to little more than campaign ads for politicians uninterested in effecting actual change, this bill actually sounds like it's got some teeth.
The group behind the bill includes Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal, Claire McCaskill, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Mark Warner and Republicans Chuck Grassley (see: above use of word "motley"), Marco Rubio, Dean Heller, and Kelly Ayotte, according to the Huffington Post. Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York plans to introduce a version of the bill to the House.
The legislation would require colleges to do a better job connecting sexual assault victims to legal authorities, would beef up the role of advocates on campus. It would bar college athletic departments from handling sexual assault complaints against athletes, establish a uniform disciplinary process, require colleges to disclose more information about whether or not they actually investigate sexual assaults and, most importantly, would hike up fines for colleges that don't comply.
As it stands right now, the Clery Act fines colleges between $35,000 and $150,000 per violation. Under the new law, colleges could be fined up to 1% of their annual operating budget per violation. For a school like Harvard, which costs more than $4 billion a year to run, failing to meet the law's requirements could result in millions of dollars in fines. Like, $Several Administrators' Annual Salaries in fines.
Here's hoping the Senate and House of Representatives has the good sense to do the right thing and get it to the President's desk.
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