Haskell supports sexual assault protections
WESTPORT — Last week, state Sen. Will Haskell (D-26) joined a bipartisan coalition of legislators on the Higher Education & Employment Advancement Committee to support a bill designed to change the climate of college campuses and provide additional protections against sexual assault. Haskell is co-chair of the committee.
Representatives from the Every Voice Coalition and the Connecticut Coalition to End Sexual Violence have also lent their support for Senate Bill 19.
“When a new student walks onto a college campus, they’re usually promised that they’re entering a safe space. They’re told that dormitories and classrooms will provide the support they need to pursue academic endeavors and transition into adulthood. All of this should be true,” Haskell said in a statement. “But tragically, many students cannot feel safe due to the epidemic of sexual violence. Recent data reveals that as many as one in five women and one in 16 men will be sexually assaulted before graduating college — and 90 percent of those assaults will go unreported.”
The bill proposes two changes on college campuses. If made law, it would establish a sexual misconduct climate survey for use by Connecticut colleges and universities. It would also protect students who report being victims or witnesses of sexual assault, stalking or violence against potential disciplinary action by the college or university they attend.
The survey would anonymously gather information about incidents of sexual assault and misconduct, students’ knowledge of procedures and rules in place regarding sexual assault, contextual factors and demographic information. A task force would then analyze survey results and publish a report based on the findings.
Restrictions on disciplinary action in the legislation are designed to protect students who may have been victims or witnesses of sexual misconduct in situations where individuals may have been acting outside of institutional guidelines. Fear of punishment is another factor victims must face when reporting such incidents.
Also supporting the bill are Committee Co-Chair state Rep. Gregg Haddad (D-54), Ranking Member state Sen. Tony Hwang (R-28) and Vice Chairs state Sen. Mae Flexer (D-29) and state Rep. Gary Turco (D-27).