Senators press task force on college assault reforms

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) and six other senators are pressing for a college sexual assault database and other reforms in a letter to a White House task force.
 
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In the letter made public on Monday, the senators recommended that the White House consider assigning a Department of Education employee to exclusively coordinate Title IX and Clery Act sexual assault reports. They also urged directing universities to administer an annual anonymous survey of campus sexual assaults and creating a database for people to search the status of all Title IX and Clery Act complaints and investigations.
 
President Obama announced the Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in January, and it is expected to release its recommendations this week.
 
"When our young people go on to higher education, it should be an opportunity to learn, grow, pursue their dreams and prepare for their future careers," Gillibrand said. "But the price of a college education should not include a 1 in 5 chance of being sexually assaulted."
 
The other signing senators were Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
 
"Sexual assault is a staggeringly pervasive scourge — not a women's problem, a societal problem. On too many campuses, even now it's unrecognized and underreported, so only a fraction of survivors receive the support and justice they need and deserve," Blumenthal said.
 
Last week, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) sent out a survey to 350 college and university presidents across the country on how they report campus sexual assaults. Earlier this year, she sponsored legislation to overhaul sexual assault cases in the military.
 
Gillibrand also sponsored a rival measure that would have removed the chain of command from prosecuting military sexual assaults, but it fell five votes short of overcoming a filibuster.