Will campus rape bill increase risks to student safety?


Will campus rape bill increase risks to student safety?

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At Georgia’s public colleges, punishing alleged sex offenders often falls to the school itself. A bill in the Georgia General Assembly would require the involvement of law enforcement, a change that some women’s advocates say could backfire and increase the risks of assaults. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Will a bill restricting the ability of Georgia’s public campuses to investigate sexual assaults cause fewer victims to come forward and raise the risk of more assaults?

Those are some of the concerns about state Rep. Earl Ehrhart’s campus rape bill. House Bill 51 limits the ability of Georgia’s public colleges to investigate and punish those accused of rape on campus. Despite testimony by sexual assault victims that the legislation would endanger them and others, a House panel passed it unanimously last week.

The bill states, “no investigation … shall be undertaken by the postsecondary institution unless such investigation is done by a campus law enforcement agency staffed by law enforcement officers who are certified peace officers by the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council.”

Writing today in the AJC Get Schooled blog, a college student from Atlanta involved in sexual assault prevention says, “At first, this may sound reasonable. What this legislation really does, however, is remove the ability of colleges and universities to exercise their own systems of due process. It would limit schools’ abilities to secure their own campuses, placing investigations in the hands of the legal system which notoriously mishandles cases of rape and sexual assault and fails in its due process.”

In fact, Williams College senior Zoe Taylor warns Ehrhart’s bill could endanger students, writing, “…in the time it takes for criminal justice cases to see a ruling, the accused could attack other students, as most perpetrators of sexual violence commit multiple offenses.”

To read more, go to the AJC Get Schooled blog.

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