Two U.S. representatives are introducing a new bill, the Safe Campus Act, to solve the continually confounding problem of handling sexual assaults on college campuses. It sounds ok at first; its goal is to give students a fair hearing on their campuses, but instead it could make reporting more difficult if survivors don’t directly report to their campus’s Title IX coordinator, a provision included in another bill in Congress right now: the Campus Accountability and Safety Act.
Because a “fair hearing” sounds a lot like “the beginning of a criminal investigation,” some activists are wary. Although in The Washington Post’s summary of the House bill, it sounds like the opposite situation:
Students alleging sexual violence could decide whether to report the incident to law enforcement or not. If a serious crime were alleged and the student preferred not to involve police in an investigation, campus officials would not launch an internal investigation. But they could provide protections to the student, such as requiring the accused to avoid the accuser.
Yet part of the bill’s goal is to get law enforcement more involved to bring perpetrators to justice, completely ignoring the fact that for many rape survivors, criminal justice might not be the justice they find most healing.
And if it is, are campuses capable of handling crimes of that scope, or should sexual assault cases be taken to county courts that may be better educated on the topic? Regardless, the Safe Act would give students “due process” in their school’s court proceedings, which they deserve if they decide to pursue them.
Image via Amy E. Voigt