Today: Apr 14, 2024

New sex abuse bill gives college students updated information regarding assaults and added security

Lauren Drenckhahn – Online Editor

A new bill passed in June will now require Connecticut colleges and universities to adopt new regulations regarding sexual assault on campus.

Dr. Peter Troiano, interim vice president for Student and University Affairs at Southern Connecticut State University, said he believes that “the bill is an important reminder to all campuses of the need to constantly review policies and educate students about these and other issues related to health and safety.”

In early February, the changes were proposed by the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee. The act is an update to the Clery Act, which was signed in 1990. This legislation was named after 19-year-old Jeanne Clery who was raped and murdered in her Lehigh University residence hall in 1986. The new bill is modeled after the Campus SAVE Act, which was introduced in Congress last year but was never passed.

The Clery Act did not address intimate partner violence, guidance for what is standard in disciplinary proceedings, accommodations for victims, or assistance with restraining orders.

“The term ‘intimate partner violence’ describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy,” according to www.cdc.gov.

“Southern organized a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) several years ago. That group, under the leadership of Cathy Christy, coordinator of the SCSU Women’s Center, will continue to lead the university’s effort to educate students on issues related to sexual violence—including the sexual assault and interpersonal violence primary prevention training,” Dr. Troiano said.

“We want students to know that by coming forward, their rights will be protected and they will be partnering with us to make the campus a safer place for all students.”

Anna Doroghazi, director of public policy and communication from Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services said, “I think the Campus SAVE Act was part of the Higher Ed Committee’s motivation to introduce this particular bill in Connecticut. The co-chairs of the Higher Ed Committee are also both very concerned about student safety and sexual violence prevention, and they saw a need to improve campus prevention and response in Connecticut.”

The policy must detail the reporting procedures that students and staff should follow after an assault, including who to contact and information about the importance of preserving physical evidence. They must also provide student and staff victims with resources for on- and off-campus mental, health, and legal services.

“Students should know how the law impacts them and what their rights are on campus,” said Doroghazi.

Senior Megan Dicine said, “It is important to keep this law up to speed with new dating trends. Times are changing and the law needs to support people no matter what the circumstances in a relationship are.”

Dicine, whose little sister will be a college freshman in the fall also said. “It’s an important issue. Freshmen need to be informed of what they can do. They need to be aware of things that can happen when they’re on their own and be prepared for a situation.”

The new act will ensure that every college and university will offer sexual assault and interpersonal violence primary prevention and awareness programming. Through this, new students and faculty will be given an explanation of the definition of consent and information about reporting, bystander intervention and risk reduction.

Visit www.southernct.edu/sexualassaultresponse for more information on Southern’s sexual assault policy and http://www.cga.ct.gov for more information about the new bill.

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