Bill Would Impose Fine on Colleges & Universities that Ignore Allegations and Allow Disciplinary Action Against Perpetrators
(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrat Reed Gusciora sponsored to help combat sexual assault on campuses was released Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-2118) requires the Secretary of Higher Education to impose a penalty of $10,000 against a higher education institution, if it’s determined the institution failed to properly respond to an allegation of sexual assault made by a student against another student.
It also allows the secretary to impose appropriate disciplinary action against the perpetrator, if the allegation is substantiated.
“The days of looking the other way when it comes to sexual assault are over,” said Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Statistics show one in five women are sexually assaulted on college campus, which means we have a lot of work to do to ensure these allegations are taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. This bill is meant to ensure the right approach is taken to these serious allegations.”
The bill comes after the federal government recently disclosed that 55 colleges and universities are under investigation for possibly violating the law in their handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.
Also, the Obama administration recently unveiled a plan to crack down on campus sexual assault with increased enforcement and guidance to schools on their legal obligations.
A White House task force released a blueprint for strengthening enforcement and providing additional tools to combat the problem, including a new website and funding for research on prevention programs.
“Everyone on a college campus deserves a safe learning environment and the security of knowing those in charge will take allegations of criminal behavior seriously,” Gusciora said. “We cannot leave the door open to looking the other way. This bill forces colleges and universities to do the right thing.”
The bill was released by the Assembly Higher Education Committee.