Concerns Over Campus Sexual Assault Legislation

Mar 18, 2015


Legislation that addresses campus sexual assaults is already on Governor McAuliffe's desk—but before he signs off, amends, or vetoes anything, he has the input from members of his Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence to consider.

The legislation requires campus employees to report sexual violence allegations to the Title IX  coordinator, who must report the allegation to a review team that meets within 72 hours.  One subcommittee believes that while the legislation is a good first step, there's more work ahead.

Virginia Tech Assistant Provost Dr. Ellen Plummer doesn't hate the legislation, but during the latest task force meeting her panel expressed concerns. She says as the state conforms to federal mandates to investigate every sexual assault report, there have been challenges.

"At Virginia Tech for example, we experienced a decrease in the number of students who brought their concerns forward because of the student being concerned that her or his information would not be kept confidential."

She says this leaves them not knowing where to turn for help without triggering a whole host of investigations.  Her subcommittee drafted 10 sets of recommendations to address those concerns — from establishing sexual assault response teams to creating mobile phone smart applications.

The legislation also states that if the review team determines that disclosure of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of the victim or others, the Title IX coordinator would be required to disclose the information to the relevant law-enforcement agency.