Lawmakers have drafted legislation to address sexual assault on college campuses. It will be the first bill heard by the Higher Education Committee when it convenes next month.
One in five women are subjected to sexual abuse while in college, according to lawmakers. Last October, seven current and former UConn students took federal action against their school, saying the college failed to adequately respond to claims of sexual assault.
Roberta Willis, co-chair of the state's Higher Education Committee, said, "The trauma of sexual assault on the victim really necessitates that they feel the environment is safe. That they are supported and that their reporting options are clearly presented to them."
Willis said the proposed legislation would strengthen Connecticut's existing sexual assault law by allowing anonymous reporting. It would also make local police a more influential part of campus response teams. Additionally, the bill calls for public and private universities to provide clear paperwork outlining a victim's options following an assault.
According to Willis, the bill is backed by every woman in the house and senate. That's 63 legislators. State Representative Rosa Rebimbas, a Republican representing Naugatuck, is one of them. "Educational institutions should be fostering a safe learning and teaching environment for all their students and staff," she said. "This bill will assure that a proper procedure is put in place and followed to make sure this happens."
A public hearing on the bill is scheduled for February 11.