Rep. Susan Davis Introduces Bill to Require On-Campus Advocate for Sexual Assault Survivors
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Susan Davis, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Higher Education, introduced legislation to create an independent on-campus advocate to help survivors of campus sexual assault navigate the administrative, legal, medical, and emotional challenges that result from an assault. Davis’s bill comes on the heels of an announcement by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to re-visit the campus sexual assault policy established by President Obama.
The Survivor Outreach and Support (SOS) Campus Act requires higher education institutions receiving federal assistance to create an office of an Independent Advocate for Campus Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. Along with being an advocate for survivors, the office would promote assault prevention. Senator Tim Kaine introduced a Senate version of the bill.
“Dealing with an assault can be an overwhelming experience – emotionally and physically,” said Rep. Davis. “This bill will create a critical resource for sexual assault survivors – an advocate who will be looking out for their rights and interests. For a survivor to know someone is there for them will also encourage more to come forward, helping to create an atmosphere on campuses that these crimes will not be tolerated. We have a responsibility to ensure that our colleges and universities are safe places for all students.”
The independent advocate would guide sexual assault victims who request assistance with:
- Information on how to report the assault to law enforcement
- Getting emergency medical care
- Crisis intervention counseling, and ongoing counseling
- Obtaining legal services
The services may be provided on campus in consultation with a rape crisis center, legal organization or community-based organization.
The advocate office would also raise awareness on its services and help implement assault prevention measures.
The bill prohibits the retaliation, discipline, or penalizing a victim of sexual assault for reporting an assault to the independent advocate.