House passes bill to fortify college sexual assault laws
HARTFORD — The House of Representatives unanimously approved legislation April 10 that strengthens laws to address sexual assaults on college campuses and between intimate partners.
“This important legislation adds further protections for the students, professors and staff of our college campuses who deserve to be able to work and learn in a safe environment,” state Rep. Rosa Rebimbas (R-70) said in a press release. “It assures the proper procedures will be in place to make our colleges and universities even safer.”
The legislation, H.B. 5029, brings current state law in closer alignment with the federal Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act by requiring the uniform campus crime reports to include incidences of sexual assault, stalking and intimate partner violence against students and employees that were reported to the institution, according to the release.
The bill also requires each institution of higher education to establish a sexual assault response team for each of its campuses. Schools must also develop relationships with community providers that specialize in either domestic or sexual violence so victims can access free and confidential counseling and advocacy services.
The legislation, which was sent to the state Senate for action, would also allow for anonymous reporting.
The issue of sexual violence on campuses was thrust to the forefront this year when University of Connecticut students testified before legislators, contending that school officials weren’t helpful when they reported crimes.
“I’m proud to say that the legislature has responded strongly, and that Connecticut continues to be a leader in pushing regulations that serve victims,” said state Rep. Lezlye Zupkus (R-89) in a press release. “Each and every victim deserves to be heard, to have their story treated seriously. This bill will further improve the environment at colleges and universities here.”