Senators Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Patty Murray (D–Wash.) introduced legislation this week designed to reduce sexual assaults on college campuses.

The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act would amend the Jeanne Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities that participate in federal aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. Under the SaVE Act, colleges would be required to more clearly set out their policies regarding sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

Colleges will now have to include a statement of policy regarding sexual harassment and violence in their annual security reports along with giving students who report incidents a written explanation of their rights.

The legislation also supports bystander education, which teaches college students ways to respond to witnessing violence. It also provides for collaboration between the Departments of Justice and Education to gather best practices information about preventing and responding to sexual violence.

The act is vague about the specifics of how colleges and universities would need to change the way they report crimes of sexual violence and harassment. However, advocates for better awareness of sexual violence on campus believe that the law could improve reporting and understanding of the issue.

Georgetown’s Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Services Coordinator Jen Schweer said that the proposed changes could better inform students about sexual assault while dispelling the stigma surrounding the issue.

“I believe the Sexual Violence Elimination Act is a positive step in the direction of helping us to continue and expand the dialogues and programs that we already have in place,” she said. “The more education we can provide, the easier it can be to dispel myths and victim-blaming.”

Danielle LoVallo (SFS ’11), co-chair of the on-campus anti-gender violence group Take Back the Night, believes that the proposed legislation could help make college campuses more secure.

“It is a big step in the right direction,” she wrote in an email. “In light of Vice President Biden’s recent campaign to address sexual and domestic violence on campus, the SaVE Act represents a whole-of-government approach. Georgetown University should follow suit.”

LoVallo added that the push for sexual assault awareness by universities themselves might reduce the frequency of this type of violence.

“Hopefully with mandatory education for all new students and employees, those numbers will no longer be too high.”

The act has been endorsed by more than 15 advocacy groups, including Security on Campus and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

“We’ve come a long way since sexual violence on campus was first recognized as a national challenge,” S. Daniel Carter, the director of public policy for Security on Campus, said in a statement on the organization’s website.

“The numbers prove we still have a long way to go, however, and SaVE will move us closer to eliminating the scourge of sexual violence on campus,” he added.

Schweer echoed his sentiments, localizing them for Georgetown.

“Creating this as a part of legislation shines an important light on a topic that impacts all of us in some way.”

– Hoya Staff Writer Anne Skomba contributed to this report

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