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McCaskill's second campus sexual assault roundtable focuses on reporting, enforcement, prevention
McCaskill's second campus sexual assault roundtable focuses on reporting, enforcement, prevention

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 2, 2014) — Convening stakeholders from across the country, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today held the second of three roundtable discussions focusing on Title IX federal civil rights law, which protects students from discrimination based on sex—including sexual harassment and assault—and policies to combat rape and sexual assaults on college and university campuses.

“I’m holding these roundtables in order to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to hear about what is working and what is not, what we can do to improve the response to sexual violence on college campuses, where we may need to legislate, and maybe where we may need to un-legislate,” McCaskill said. “When many people think about Title IX they think about it in the context of women’s athletics—but it is so much more. It is part of our federal civil rights scheme that ensures that students have equal access to educational opportunities free from sexual discrimination. This also means an educational environment free from sexual harassment and free from sexual violence.”

Topics covered in today’s roundtable included how to improve data collection from schools, how to make that data actionable, and policies’ inclusiveness of LGBT students. Participants in the discussion found consensus around ideas of requiring all colleges to disclose the name of officials coordinating Title IX matters, considering expanding the financial penalties available against schools that fail to protect their students effectively, potentially adjusting the current statute of limitations in these cases, and the need to publicize schools achieving excellence in protecting their students from sexual violence in order to incentivize better results.

Stakeholders discussed various ways to strengthen Title IX enforcement, through increased transparency and a better penalty and incentive structure. The discussion also focused on the intersection of maintaining survivor confidentiality and the mitigating the public safety risk, especially because many perpetrators are repeat offenders.

Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who also participated in the roundtable discussion, expressed: “This is an issue that unfortunately we shouldn’t even have to be here talking about. It should be something that’s handled in a way that treats people with dignity.”

Participants at today’s roundtable discussion included:

· Jocelyn Samuels—Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice

· Lindy Aldrich—Deputy Director at the Victim Rights Law Center

· Dana Bolger—Founding Co-Director of Know Your IX

· John Kelly—Special Project Organizer of Know Your IX

· Katie Eichele—Director of the Aurora Center for Advocacy & Education at the University of Minnesota

· Anne Hedgepeth—Government Relations Manager at the American Association of University Women

· Deborah Noble-Triplett—Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Missouri

· Cat Riley—Title IX Coordinator at the Office of Title IX Compliance at the University of Texas Medical Branch

The third and final roundtable will focus on the Criminal Justice System and Administrative Process, on Monday, June 23 at 2:30 p.m. McCaskill is surveying colleges and universities to learn exactly how schools handle rapes and sexual assaults on campuses—specifically focusing on how such crimes are reported and investigated and how students are notified about available services. The survey will gauge the effectiveness of federal oversight and enforcement under Title IX and the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, commonly known as the Clery Act. Click HERE to view a sample survey.

Read more on McCaskill’s effort to combat sexual assault on college campuses HERE.

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