Taking steps to reduce sexual violence on college campuses in New Jersey, legislation sponsored by Assemblywomen Annette Quijano, Mila Jasey and Eliana Pintor Marin to establish a Campus Sexual Assault Commission cleared the full Assembly on Monday, 77-0.
“A staggering 11.2% of graduate and undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, according to the Rape Abuse Incest National Network,” said Quijano (D-Union). “We need to do more to reduce incidents of sexual violence, starting with assessing how allegations are investigated, holding abusers accountable and ensuring survivors have the support they need.”
The bill (A-1763) would establish a Campus Sexual Assault Commission in the Department of State. The commission would further the work of the Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault, and would be required to:
- study and evaluate emerging issues, policies, and practices concerning campus sexual assault;
- monitor the response to, and implementation of, the recommendations put forth in the report issued by the task force;
- supplement the findings and recommendations, as necessary, of the report issued by the task force;
- develop and administer, in consultation with the Secretary of Higher Education, a campus climate survey every three years; and develop an action plan every three years that includes policies, programs, or procedures responsive to the issues and needs identified in the campus climate survey.
“A victim of sexual violence is impacted by their experience for the rest of their lives,” said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “We cannot and will not let this continue to happen to our students. The work of this commission can help us change the culture on college campuses and make clear that this has no place here in New Jersey.”
“For parents and students, attending an institution of higher learning comes with an expectation of safety,” said Pintor Marin (D-Essex), “but one in five women experience sexual assault during college. We have to better understand why that terrible statistic is so high, and also examine how we can protect our students, as well as what we can do to help them protect themselves.”
The 12-member commission would include:
- the Secretary of Higher Education, the Attorney General, and the Director of the Division on Women in the Department of Children and Families, or their designees, who would serve ex officio;
- five public members appointed by the Governor, including a representative of the State colleges and universities, a representative of the public research universities, a representative of the county colleges, a representative of the independent colleges and universities, and a representative of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault; and
- four public members with demonstrated expertise or interest in issues related to the work of the commission, including at least one individual who is a campus sexual assault survivor. The President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly, the Minority Leader of the Senate, and the Minority Leader of the General Assembly would each appoint one of these public members. Public members would serve for a term of three years.
The commission would organize no later than 60 days upon enactment of the bill. The group would meet quarterly at a minimum.