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Crime

Gillibrand credits campus sexual assault survivors for shining light

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Senator Claire McCaskill
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Various states have been implementing their own laws dealing with sexual violence on college campuses, with New York’s among the most stringent in the country. There is also an effort underway to deal with the issue on the national level.

The Campus Accountability & Safety Act, if passed, would provide incentives to schools that take on the issue of sexual assault and empower students who are victims.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who worked to put an end to sexual assaults in the military, is one of the main sponsors of the act. She brought up how two students, named Annie and Andrea, came to her after their school blamed them for their own assaults. Gillibrand said people like them needed to be listened to.

“Listen to our survivors, listen to the horrible crimes they had to endure, listen to how their schools betrayed them. We need to pass this bipartisan bill and finally hold schools accountable for how they deal with this crime. It is essential for the protection and well-being of all our students,” Gillibrand said Tuesday.

Annie and Andrea started a group called, “End Rape on Campus,” which travels to campuses and helps victims get justice for their school’s mishandling of their assault.

“This group of survivors and advocates have been so successful in bringing attention to this issue that everyone from colleges and universities to government officials to businesses and non for-profits, parents and their children, are now thinking about ‘How do we fight campus sexual violence?,'” Gillibrand said.

College campuses nationwide reported over 6,700 forcible sex offenses, in 2014 alone, with the actual number of offenses estimated to be four times that number.

“The Association of American Universities, whose members make up the most prestigious public and private institutions in the United States, surveyed more than 150,000 students at 27 universities. And they found out, on average, one in five women who took the survey experienced sexual assault while in college,” the senator added.

A similar survey done by RTI International found the same number, one in five, had experienced an assault. Gillibrand says most of those students either didn’t report the crime or their schools wouldn’t hear the cases, fearing their effects on future student enrollment.