“This offers clarity”: Colorado lawmakers want to streamline how colleges and universities prevent and respond to sexual assault

House Bill 1391 is heard by the House Education Committee on Monday, April 16, 2018.

Jesse Paul, The Denver PostHouse Bill 1391 is heard by the House Education Committee on Monday, April 16, 2018.

After Jess Davidson was sexually assaulted off-campus by an acquaintance at the University of Denver a few years ago, seeing her attacker on campus — and just knowing that he was there — created a wave of anxiety.

If she spotted him during trips to the library to finish her senior thesis, she would find herself running out to vomit, Davidson said during testimony at the Colorado Capitol. And those concerns were on top of what she characterized as a frustrating reporting process.

“I don’t ever remember learning about consent, not only in high school but also during my first week of orientation,” said Davidson, who has since graduated and now leads a national advocacy organization, End Rape on Campus. “… I don’t remember being told how to report it.”

A bill that cleared its first hurdle at the Colorado legislature on Monday seeks to ease some of the frustration of accusers in sexual assault cases by mandating how the state’s public and private colleges and universities respond and make their sexual misconduct policies well-known.

“This offers clarity,” said Rep. Faith Winter, D-Westminster, who has been working on the legislation since October and is its prime sponsor. “It offers clarity for our institutes of higher education, it offers clarity for students.”

House Bill 1391 requires that each higher-education institution adopt — and periodically review — a sexual misconduct policy that includes reporting options and procedures for investigations and judgments, and protections for accusers and alleged attackers.

It also would bar the use of an accuser’s sexual history in adjudication proceedings, ensure there is a confidential reporting process, prohibit retaliation, require timely case updates to those involved and encourage prompt resolutions.

“When there are incidents of …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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