Kaine, Boxer, Gillibrand introduce new sexual assault resource act

Legislation provides survivors with access to medical care, counseling

nsvacapitolcourtesywikipedia

Even though the advocate would be federally mandated through the legislation, universities would be responsible to pay for the new position.

U.S. Senators Tim Kaine, D-VA, Barbara Boxer, D-CA, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, introduced a the latest version of the Survivor Outreach and Support on Campus Act to the Senate on Mar. 11.

If passed, the S.O.S. Campus Act will make it mandatory for every institution of higher education that receives federal funding to designate an independent advocate for campus sexual assault prevention and response. Next week, when the House is back in session, Congresswoman Susan Davis, D-San Diego, will introduce the House version of the act.

Boxer crafted the bill as a result of months of discussions with California university officials and advocacy groups on efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault on campus.

“Sexual assault survivors deserve an advocate who will stand up and fight for them every step of the way,” Boxer said in a press release. “The University of California and the California State University system are already moving to put independent advocates on all their campuses, and other colleges are following suit.

Boxer said she was pleased Gillibrand and Kaine are supporting this effort to ensure sexual assault survivors on campuses have the services and support they deserve.

According to the press release, if passed, the bill will ensure survivors of sexual assault have necessary resources with access to emergency and follow-up medical care, guidance on reporting assaults to law enforcement, medical forensic or evidentiary exams, crisis intervention, ongoing counseling and information on their legal rights by the advocate.

“Our responsibility is twofold — to embrace strategies that prevent sexual assaults and to ensure that survivors have the support they need,” Kaine said in a press release. “By designating independent advocates on college campuses, the S.O.S. Campus Act will connect survivors to valuable counseling, medical care and legal information.”

Even though the advocate would be federally mandated through the legislation, universities would be responsible to pay for the new position.

“Cost will be low, if any, because universities could partner with rape crisis centers or women’s centers on campus,” Kaine spokesperson Sarah Peck said in an email.

Earlier this year, Kaine introduced the Teach Safe Relationships Act bill on the Senate floor. Along with the S.O.S. Campus Act, this bill takes different approaches to help prevent sexual assaults and to support survivors.

“Both bills seek to address sexual assault on college campuses,” Peck said. “The Teach Safe Relationships Act focuses on preventing sexual assault and domestic violence through improved health education in public secondary schools and the S.O.S. Campus Act focuses on supporting survivors of sexual assault.”

The legislation has received support from organizations such as the National Women’s Law Center, the University of California and the American Association of University Women.

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