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Senate Subcommittee Holds Campus Sexual Violence Roundtable

On June 2, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Financial and Contracting Oversight, led by Chair Claire McCaskill (D-MO), held a roundtable bringing together public stakeholders to discuss rape and sexual assault on college campuses. The roundtable, Campus Sexual Assault: The Role of Title IX, focused on how colleges and universities around the nation are complying with Title IX and how the federal government can better work to shape and enforce policies surrounding campus sexual violence.

Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant attorney general, Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, stated that “Sexual violence is a form of discrimination…It is obviously a safety issue, but importantly for the Departments of Justice and Education, it is also a civil rights issue.”  She continued, “It is critical that students know their rights [under Title IX (P.L. 92-318)], and that students, faculty, staff, and everyone on campus know their responsibilities when it comes to sexual assault…[Schools] have to broadly disseminate these policies so that people are aware of them. The best written policies in the world are not worth much if people do not know where to go when they have a concern.”

Ms. Samuels, agreeing with comments from other panelists, stated that “Universities have to engage in a process that is their own with their communities, with their stakeholders to address the kind of campuses they are, the kinds of communities they are in, and the nature of the problems they find.” She continued, “[M]odel policies are very difficult as they don’t take into account the particular needs of the campus, but it is also by virtue of engaging in the process that I think university officials learn what needs to be done and really ensure credibility and buy-in at the end of the day.”

Sen. McCaskill ended the roundtable by announcing that legislation addressing campus sexual violence would be introduced in the coming weeks.

The following witnesses also testified:

  • Cat Riley, Title IX coordinator, University of Texas Medical Branch;
  • Anne Hedgepeth, government relations manager, American Association of University Women;
  • Dana Bolger, founding co-director, Know Your IX;
  • Deborah Noble-Triplett, assistant vice president for academic affairs, University of Missouri;
  • Kate Eichele, the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, University of Missouri;
  • John Kelly, special project organizer, Know Your IX; and
  • Lindy Aldrich, deputy director, Victims Rights Law Center.
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