Campus Sexual Assault - McCaskill Announces Public Stakeholder Roundtables

After launching unprecedented Congressional survey of 450 schools, Senator will hold series of roundtable talks with survivors, advocates, administrators, prosecutors, law enforcement

WASHINGTON - Weeks after launching a massive survey of hundreds of colleges and universities-the first Congressional inquiry of its kind-U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill will hold a series of public stakeholder roundtable discussions to discuss policies to combat rape and sexual assaults on college and university campuses.

McCaskill, who is organizing the three roundtables through her Subcommittee on Financial & Contracting Oversight, is teaming up with Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut to better understand how colleges and universities handle sexual assaults on campus, as the Senators consider legislative solutions. Participating in the roundtables will be current or former student survivors, campus safety and sexual assault experts, sex crimes prosecutors, university law enforcement, victim advocacy and response organizations, and university administrators.

The roundtable discussions be open to the press and will cover the following topics:

  1. The Clery Act and the Campus SaVE Act: Monday, May 19, 2-4 p.m.
  2. Title IX: Monday, June 2, 2-4 p.m.
  3. Administrative Process and the Criminal Justice System: Monday, June 16, 2-4 p.m.

"These roundtables are the next step in our in-depth look at the practices our campus communities have in place to protect students and bring perpetrators to justice-and how we can fix, strengthen and enforce them," said McCaskill, a former courtroom prosecutor of sex crimes. "It's clear we have a lot of work to do to tackle the systemic issues that prevent victims from reporting these crimes, that prevent schools from effectively protecting these survivors, and prevent clear and proper enforcement of federal law. These meetings will help us understand, from those who know best, what more we can do for students, administrators and law enforcement to give them the tools they need to curb this epidemic."

"The fact of the matter is, there are simply too many horrifying stories of our young people who get accepted to the college of their dreams, begin their college career filled with hope-only to have their lives shattered by the turn of events of just one single night," said Gillibrand. "And instead of seeing justice, survivors often have to continue to see their assailant day after day on campus. This has to end. The price of a college education should never include a 1 in 5 chance of being sexually assaulted. And together we will not allow these crimes to be swept under the rug any longer. It is time to end the scourge of rape and sexual assault at America's colleges, hold offenders accountable, and keep our students safe. I am optimistic the information learned at these roundtables will bolster the momentum being created by extraordinary students all across the country who are demanding accountability and help move the needle in Congress towards needed bipartisan reform."

"Having conducted seven roundtable discussions with survivors, students, administrators, and law enforcement at colleges and universities across Connecticut, I am confident that these discussions on the national level will be meaningful and productive," Senator Blumenthal said. "These discussions will help me and my colleagues better understand the pernicious and pervasive crime of sexual violence, and what can be done at the federal level to strengthen existing federal laws and enforcement tools to better protect students at college campuses nationwide. I look forward to working with Senators McCaskill and Gillibrand on this very important societal issue."

McCaskill is also surveying colleges and universities to learn exactly how schools handle rapes and sexual assaults on campuses-specifically focusing on how such crimes are reported and investigated and how students are notified about available services. The survey will gauge the effectiveness of federal oversight and enforcement under Title IX federal civil rights law and the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, commonly known as the Clery Act. Click HERE to view a sample survey.

McCaskill, Gillibrand, and Blumenthal recently sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education calling for new federal funding to investigate and enforce sexual assault laws at colleges and universities. Each year, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights handles more than 10,000 complaints against schools over violations of Title IX, but has just half the staff it did in 1980, when OCR received a third of the amount of complaints as today.