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Sen. Barnes: Bills Would Address Sexual Assaults on College Campuses

8-27-14

A White House task force asserts one in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. Now the task force is partnering with Rutgers University to pilot a project that would be a model for schools across the country and a bill in Congress would fine colleges that fail to investigate reports. Sen. Peter Barnes III (D-18) told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that sexual assaults are a crisis and that he has put forward three bills for colleges to deal with the issue.

“It’s a crisis situation, no question, and it is a difficult situation,” said Barnes. “Actually I put in three bills. The first one deals with having the colleges report a sexual crime to the local police department, which, believe it or not, is not currently on the books. This of course requires the victim to cooperate but it would remove the discretion that the the universities and colleges would have.”

Barnes said that reports would move to the main police department, which he believes is in the best position to investigate. He said that police departments usually have the technical equipment and expertise to investigate.

The second bill sponsored by Barnes would require schools to report crimes on their websites on a monthly basis. According to Barnes, it would just require the crime numbers to be shown and that it would not include names. Along with reporting sexual crimes on their websites, schools would have to provide students with a separate flyer detailing numbers of reported sexual crimes for the year.

“In addition, any student who’s been accepted at a respective college in New Jersey, institution of higher learning that when they’re accepted,” Barnes said, “in addition to all of the other packages of information that students receive on finical aid and those kinds of things, would get a separate flyer detailing the number of reported sexual crimes for that given year.”

The third bill, Barnes said, would require that an advisor be provided to help guide the victim through the process.

“There’s a third bill as well. The third bill would provide a confidential advisor at the college’s cost to any man or woman reporting a sexual crime,” said Barnes.

According to Barnes, even if a victim does not want to report the crime, he or she could still get psychological help.

Barnes said that Rutgers has been doing a good job and that the school already provides an advisor.

“Once a man or woman reports sexual violence, an act of sexual violence, Rutgers provides an assistant to that person and they’ve been doing this, as we’ve learned, for quite some time,” said Barnes. “I don’t know about the reporting requirements but I understand that Rutgers has a program where the police were notified and that they cooperate. There’s no situation where they’re trying to bury the information or sweep it under the rug.”

Barnes said that the College of New Jersey has also been very aggressive on sexual crimes.