Senator offers promising alternative to Safe Campus Act

Staff Writer, Jack Newell

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

The Campus Safety and Accountability Act was introduced to the Senate this year by Missouri senator Claire McCaskill as a way to fight sexual assault and other serious crimes on college campuses. The bill has wide support from both Republicans and Democrats but is also facing opposition from people who claim it will hurt alleged victims of sexual assault. Overall, the bill offers an effective remedy to the lack of accountability on the part of campus adjudication bodies and the problem of perpetrators who walk free.

The primary stipulations of the act are that universities must make public their statistics on sexual assault to prospective and current students and employees, and that they must work with local law enforcement on the investigation of serious crimes.

The first portion of the act is quite uncontroversial. Institutions need to be held accountable for preventing acts of violence in their own communities. Not reporting these numbers to current and incoming students is borderline fraud. When students apply to colleges, they are often required to give an account of their criminal history. The school should be required to do the same. Students and parents worry about a range of issues when choosing a college. These include tuition, location, and academic standing. Rates of violent crimes should be included.

The second part has sparked controversy, with many claiming that requiring the school to work with law enforcement will stifle alleged victims of assault. Some believe that victims will be less likely to report but this is not substantiated by evidence. The problem is twofold. First, everyone in America has the right to due process guaranteed by the Constitution. There is also the possibility of administrations doing nothing about sexual assault at all in order to protect the reputation of the school. This cannot be allowed.

The other problem with not passing the bill is that violent criminals and rapists may not feel as if they face any real consequences when found guilty of misconduct. Sometimes students found guilty of assault are merely told to move to a different dorm on campus or told they cannot approach their victim. The worst a university can actually do is expel a student.

One thing is absolutely not controversial: rapists should not be on a campus. If someone is convicted of a serious crime, that person should face the full force of the law. Every person in this country has the right to a fair trial when accused of a crime. Every person in this country has the right to know that those who have been convicted of violent crime are not walking freely among them. For these reasons, we should support the Campus Accountability and Safety Act.

Jack is a junior at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]