The bipartisan sponsors of the campus sexual assault bill introduced this week say they are proud of the “stiff fines and real teeth” they would impose on colleges that underreport assaults. But there is a weakness in the legislation that makes the prospect of fines somewhat illusory: a lack of funding to hire more investigators.
Instead, the real power of the bill would most likely come from a provision that calls for a public database of campus assaults — with information provided by students, not administrators, through a survey. Revealing those results would amount to a public shaming that would capitalize on outrage over recent studies showing that about 1 in 5 undergraduate women are sexually assaulted while on campus.
On Wednesday morning, eight senators announced the bill, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, said the legislation would impose significant financial penalties on colleges for noncompliance with new federal mandates to release data about sexual violence on campus. <Read more.>