Gov. Tom Wolf recently unveiled a four-bill package that aims to further strengthen protections for students and combat sexual assaults on campuses.
“We have made a lot of progress in combatting sexual violence and harassment in schools, but we need to do more to ensure all of our students are safe,” said Wolf. “These four legislative proposals are the next step to preventing assaults and violence and ensuring victims get the help they deserve. I commend the legislators joining me in this fight and urge the leadership in the General Assembly to quickly take this legislation up for a vote and send it to my desk.”
The governor was joined at a capitol news conference by students, legislators and the national leader of It’s On Us, a movement fighting against sexual assault on college campuses for both men and women.
The governor’s four-bill package would:
Enact a ‘yes means yes’ law that requires all postsecondary institutions to have policies with clear standards of what is and is not consent. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota and New York have similar laws to protect both partners by ensuring a mutual understanding. Schools also must have sexual violence awareness programs and agreements with local rape crisis centers and domestic violence programs so survivors get the academic, living and other accommodations that can help them stay in school. (SB 730, sponsored by Sen. Amanda Cappelletti and HB 1489, sponsored by Rep. Brian Sims)
Strengthen protections for victims of on-campus crime by requiring the schools to inform victims of their rights and services and to provide protective accommodations or protective measures, if requested by the victim. (SB 909, sponsored by Sen. Steve Santarsiero and HB 1699, sponsored by Rep. Karen Boback)
“Sexual assault and domestic violence remain a problem on college campuses,” said Santarsiero. “Our institutions of higher education have both the opportunity and responsibility to provide support and reasonable accommodations to students who have been the victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. My legislation, Senate Bill 909, will require colleges and universities to inform students of the rights, accommodations, and protective measures available to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.”
Teach middle and high school students to know and prevent dating violence, sexual assault, sexual harassment and stalking. While the Crime Victims Act outlines requirements for expelling a student for an assault on school grounds, this bill requires schools to provide preventative education for students in grades 7-12. This will help students to recognize and stop harmful and dangerous behaviors, relationships and situations, and better prepare young people before they arrive on college campuses. (SB 785, sponsored by Sen. Judith Schwank and HB 1490, sponsored by Rep. Jessica Benham)
Create a task force to study sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking in grades 6-12 and postsecondary institutions. The Joint State Government Commission would conduct the study to better understand student experiences and improve response efforts. (SR 122, sponsored by Sen. Vince Hughes and HR 108, sponsored by Rep. Carol Hill-Evans)