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Kaine Introduces Legislation to Support Survivors of Sexual Assault on College Campuses

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced legislation to support survivors of sexual assault on college campuses. The Survivor Outreach and Support on Campus Act, or S.O.S. Campus Act, would require every college and university that receives federal funding to have an independent advocate dedicated to campus sexual assault prevention and response.

“As students across Virginia and the country head back to school, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to prevent sexual assault on campuses and provide support to survivors,” said Senator Kaine. “This bill is critical to ensuring that students who bravely speak out are connected with the medical treatment, counseling, and legal information they need.”

Sexual violence on college campus is largely underreported. A 2020 report published by the Association for American Universities (AAU) found that 13% of graduate and undergraduate students have experienced rape or sexual assault. Among undergraduate students, AAU found that 26.4% of females and 6.8% percent of males experienced rape or sexual assault. Previous studies have shown that more than 50% of college sexual assaults occur between August and November.

The S.O.S. Campus Act would require the independent advocate to conduct public information campaigns on sexual assault prevention and ensure survivors of sexual assault have access to:

  • Emergency and follow-up medical care
  • Guidance on reporting assaults to law enforcement
  • Medical forensic or evidentiary exams
  • Crisis intervention, ongoing counseling, and assistance throughout the process
  • Information on their legal rights

Local rape crisis centers and other community-based organizations are currently providing many of these services in communities and on campuses around the nation. The legislation recognizes the importance of these partnerships by requiring that universities either consult with or partner with these organizations to ensure that survivors get the services they need.

In 2015, Kaine introduced the Teach Safe Relationships Act following a conversation with University of Virginia students. Key provisions from Kaine’s Teach Safe Relationships Act, including allowing Title IV funding to be used for instruction and training on safe relationship behavior among students in elementary and secondary schools, were signed into law by President Obama as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

The S.O.S. Campus Act is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).

Full text of the legislation is available here.