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Senate Passes Campus Sexual Assault Legislation

BOSTON, MA – Last week, the Senate passed S.2978, An Act relative to sexual violence on higher education campuses, to give students on college campuses more rights and resources to assist victims and prevent sexual assault. Versions of the bill have been introduced each session since 2015 and have passed the Senate multiple times.

“I am proud to support this legislation that will bring meaningful and long overdue change on college campuses,” said Senator Patrick O’Connor (R-Weymouth). “I am hopeful that this legislation will be signed by the end of the year so we can work to prevent these sexual assaults from happening in the first place and give victims the resources and peace of mind needed to come forward.”

The legislation requires colleges to:

  • Develop and publicly post policies on sexual misconduct involving students and employees.
  • Identify at least one “resource provider” who could help students and employees report sexual misconduct, access counseling and medical care, receive school-based supports, and navigate the investigative process.
  • Conduct surveys on campus sexual misconduct at least every four years and post the results on their website.  
  • Provide all students and employees with training on preventing sexual misconduct, and provided a way for someone to anonymously report sexual misconduct.

In addition, the Commissioner of Higher Education would create a new position in state government — campus safety adviser, to advance campus safety initiatives statewide.

A research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice found that 1 in 4 college women and 1 in 16 college men will be the victims of an attempted or actual rape during their years at college and more than one-third of women at colleges will experience sexual harassment.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 90% of sexual violence cases on college campuses go unreported. Due to the lack of reporting, the American Medical Association has described sexual assault as a “silent epidemic” that impacts millions of Americans.

“We must do more to protect students from sexual assault and stand up for victims by taking every possible step to keep our campuses safe,” said O’Connor. “This is a very important step to take.”

Senator Patrick O’Connor represents the Plymouth and Norfolk district, which includes the towns of Cohasset, Duxbury, Hingham, Hull, Marshfield, Norwell, Scituate, and Weymouth. Sen. O’Connor and his staff may be reached at the State House at 617-722-1646 or by email at Patrick.O’[email protected].

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