Senate Subcommittees Holds Hearings on Global Violence Against Women & Campus Sexual Assault
Senate Committee Holds Hearing on Campus Sexual Assault
On June 26, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a hearing, Sexual Assault on Campus: Working to Ensure Student Safety.
Catherine Lhamon,assistant secretary, Office for Civil Rights, US Department of Education
"The best available research suggests that 20 percent of college women, and roughly six percent of college men, are victims of attempted or completed sexual assault," stated Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Department of Education. She continued, "When universities fail to respond adequately to campus sexual assault, they may be forcing the affected students to attend school in a sexually hostile environment. This environment deprives them of their freedom to go to class without being re-traumatized by a perpetrator sitting a few seats away, walk on campus without being harassed by a perpetrator’s friends, attend a party on-campus, or even feel safe in their own dorm rooms. And it can profoundly damage students’ physical and emotional well-being in ways that deprive them of the opportunity to obtain an education altogether."
Ms. Lhamon noted that in order to address sexual assault on college campuses, OCR has focused on: issuing policy guidance on Title IX and sexual violence, providing resources and technical assistance to universities, enforcing Title IX, and working to increase transparency within the department itself.
John Kelly, special projects organizer, Know your IX, stated, "Currently, the only sanction explicitly available to the OCR against schools in violation of Title IX is the full removal of federal funding. Such a sanction would devastate the very population Title IX aims to help — students, particularly those dependent on federal financial aid — and is an action the OCR has never taken, and never should take. Congress has the ability to change this course, through legislation that grants the Department of Education the ability to levy fines against schools found out of compliance. Such an action would send a clear message to students, prospective students, alumni, and the public that a university is in violation of federal civil rights law — and that such noncompliance will not be tolerated. Fines should be levied based on a sliding scale model. A single set fine amount would unduly burden smaller schools while leaving larger, wealthier institutions virtually untouched."
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