Since June, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Claire McCaskill have been trying to pass the Campus Accountability & Safety Act, which takes a carrot/stick approach to how colleges deal with sexual assault. On the carrot side, it would increase federal funding for on-campus support services for rape survivors; stick-wise, it would increase penalties for colleges who under-report their sexual assault statistics to the feds. Now, Gillibrand is worried that the "discrepancies" in the Rolling Stone rape story will serve as an excuse for Congress to sit on the bill.
In remarks Tuesday at a Senate subcommittee hearing, Gillibrand, according to her prepared testimony, said she feared the Rolling Stone story would turn into something "some may hold up as a reason not to believe survivors when they come forward."
Gillibrand added, "Clearly, we don't know the facts of what did or did not happen in this case. But these facts have not changed: UVA has admitted they have allowed students who have confessed to sexually assaulting another student to remain on campus. That is and remains shocking." She added:
More importantly, it has never been about this one school and it is painfully clear that colleges across the country have a real problem with how they are handling, or not handling cases of sexual assault on their campuses. I hope this story will not ultimately outshine the story of thousands of brave women and men telling their stories and holding their colleges and universities across the country accountable.
And I hope it will not discourage other students from coming forward because it is the students themselves all across the country who are demanding reform and their voices are vital in this debate. And I refuse to let this story to become an excuse for Congress to do nothing and accept a broken system.
Before the issues with the Rolling Stone story surfaced, a campus media outlet released an interview with UVA associate Dean of Students Nicole Eramo, in which she admits that students who confess to sexual assault during "informal"proceedings are often not expelled.
Here's a full clip of Gillibrand and McCaskill's remarks this morning:
Image via C-SPAN