Governor Dannel P. Malloy announced on Monday that he signed legislation into law that will strengthen sexual assault prevention and response procedures at institutions of higher learning in Connecticut.
Public Act 14-11, An Act Concerning Sexual Assault, Stalking and Intimate Partner Violence on Campus, approved unanimously in the Senate and House of Representatives, mandates colleges provide services to victims, institute sexual assault policy and report incidents to the Connecticut General Assembly.
"Our students should feel safe on our colleges and universities and if that is not the case, we need to ensure we are doing all we can to protect them and prevent future acts of violence," said Governor Malloy. "I am proud that Connecticut is leading the nation in the implementation of strict legislation that will force change."
The Governor continued, "I would like to thank the Higher Education Committee, especially co-chairs State Representative Roberta Willis and State Senator Steve Cassano. I would also like to thank State Senator Beth Bye and all of the advocates, including Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services."
The new law requires all institutions of higher learning to immediately provide concise written notification to each victim regarding his or her rights and options under the institution's policy or policies and allows all institutions to permit anonymous reporting. It also requires all higher education institutions to enter into a memorandum of understanding with at least one community-based sexual assault crisis service center and one community-based domestic violence agency, and ensure that victims can access free and confidential counseling and advocacy services, either on or off campus.
All higher education institutions will be required to establish a campus resource team to review their policies and recommend protocols for providing support and services to students and employees who report being victims and establishes membership and education requirements for the team. It establishes additional education requirements for the institution's Title IX coordinator and special police force, campus police force, or campus safety personnel and training requirements for members of the state or local police who respond to campus incidents.
All higher education institutions will also be required to report annually to the General Assembly's Higher Education Committee concerning their policies, prevention and awareness programming and campaigns, and the number of incidents and disciplinary cases involving sexual assault, stalking, and intimate partner violence. It also requires institutions to include information about stalking and family violence in their annual uniform campus crime reports.
"Sexual assault on college campuses is a nationwide scourge. The comprehensive new regulations that Governor Malloy has signed into law go a long way toward confronting sexual assault and attending to its impact," said State Senator Stephen T. Cassano (D-Manchester), co-chairman of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee. "Connecticut has become a national leader in addressing this issue, and the Governor and the legislature should be proud of their work."
"The passage of the sexual assault and violence on campus bill represents a landmark achievement of this year's session of the General Assembly," said State Representative Roberta Willis (D-Lakeville), co-chair of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee. "We have sent an important message to students and parents that they should expect a safe learning environment on our college campuses. As the introducer of the bill in the House, let me again salute the young and courageous women who came forward to tell us their stories. We have passed a bill that sets an example for the rest of the nation and I thank everyone for their support."
"This action by Governor Malloy builds on the 2012 legislation that we passed and it makes Connecticut a model for other states to follow in dealing with sexual assaults on college campuses," said State Senator Beth Bye (D-west Hartford), the former co-chair of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee who helped write and pass both pieces of legislation. "I applaud Governor Malloy for his leadership on this issue, and I thank the legislature for its unanimous and bipartisan support of this law."
State Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton), ranking member of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee, said, "Victims of sexual assault should never feel helpless. This comprehensive legislation gives victims the ability to take back the power that was horrifically stolen from them. When our children leave home to go to college we should feel confident that the community they are entering into will do everything in its power to keep them safe. I am hopeful this policy will help achieve that."
"This legislation is a tremendous step forward to not only prevent sexual assaults on our college campuses but to change how our society looks at the issue of sexual assault overall," said State Representative Mae Flexer (D-Killingly, Plainfield). "This bill, which was worked on diligently by many legislators and advocates, is being signed because of the brave current and former students at the University of Connecticut who came forward and told their stories last fall. These students have a courage that most of us can only imagine, and it is because of them that Connecticut is leading the nation in responding to and preventing sexual assaults on our college campuses."
Image: Dannel Malloy on Flickr Creative Commons.