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Daemen is first private college to endorse Gillbrand's bill to fight campus sex assaults

WBFO file photo by Eileen Buckley

Daemen College in Amherst has become the first private college to endorse federal legislation designed to combat campus sex assaults.

Daemen has endorsed U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand Campus Accountability and Safety Act.  Gillibrand's bipartisan bill is designed to flip current incentives so it is in a schools' best interest to report cases of sexual assault. The current federal law actually creates incentives for schools to 'under-report' these crimes.

Daemen President Gary Olson tells WBFO News he hopes other colleges and universities support the federal bill.

"Daemen College has always put student safety first. This is something we have been concerned about for many years," replied Olson 

Credit WBFO file photo by Eileen Buckley
Daemen College President Gary Olson.

Gillibrand said the bill would help make campuses safer and more transparent.

“Sexual assault is a pervasive problem on college campuses across the country, and there is growing momentum to pass the Campus Accountability & Safety Act to help make our campuses safer and more transparent,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “I am pleased that Daemen College has endorsed this important legislation and I urge other schools in New York and across the country to do the same, so we can protect our students and ensure that sexual assault cases are no longer swept under the rug.”

In 2015, New York State implemented the Enough is Enough law, designed to be one of the toughest to combat campus sexual assaults. Olson said there are some similarities, but noted the federal bill goes even further.

"I think it puts some teeth into the accountability, which what was really needed," stated Olson.

The legislation incorporates input from survivors, students, colleges, universities, law enforcement, and advocates to do the following:

  • Establish new campus resources and support services for student survivors.
  • Ensure that college and university staff meet minimum training standards to address sexual assault cases.
  • Create historic transparency requirements to provide students, parents, and officials with an accurate picture of the problem and how campuses are addressing it. 
  • Require a uniform student disciplinary process across campuses, and coordination with law enforcement. 
  • Incentivize colleges and universities to address the problem by establishing enforceable Title IX penalties and stiffer penalties for Clery Act violations.  

The Campus Accountability & Safety Act is cosponsored by a bipartisan coalition of 34 senators.

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