Officials from UConn and the Board of Regents meet this week with legislators and advocates for victims of sexual assault to discuss a bill that would change the way college campuses respond to sexual violence.
The federal Clery Act spells out how colleges and universities nationwide are expected to respond to sexual violence on campus. The Connecticut bill would make changes to the way schools hold internal disciplinary hearings, and would require prevention programming for students and faculty.
Anna Doroghazi is director of public policy for Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services. She says despite the federal legislation, there’s still a lot of variation in the way schools respond to sexual violence.
"What we’re hoping to do through this legislation is to really level the playing field, first for colleges and universities so that they have better guidance as to what’s expected of them and what they need to do to be in compliance. And also for students. So that it doesn’t matter what college or university you attend in CT, you know you’re going to receive the same response when something happens to you on your campus"
1 in 5 women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape while in college, according to a US Department of Justice national report. Under the Clery Act, schools must disclose data.
Doroghazi says numbers in Connecticut have remained steady in the past few years.
"Most campuses report probably between 0 – 5 assaults each year. But something we hope to see in the coming years is more reporting, ‘cause that doesn’t mean that there’s more violence occurring on campuses. It just means that people are trusting the systems better."
The bill applies to both public and private colleges and universities, as well as community colleges. A similar bill stalled in last year’s session.