Several higher education groups announced Friday their opposition to the Safe Campus Act, a bill which would prevent colleges from investigating sexual assault as a student conduct violation—unless the victim also files a report with police.
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The bill was introduced to Congress in July. It found initial support among civil liberties organizations and the lobbying groups that represent fraternities and sororities: the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) and the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC). The NPC and NIC lobbied in favor of particular provisions within the Safe Campus Act, such as limiting when colleges may investigate sexual assault cases, according to the Huffington Post.
But safety groups and victims' advocates groups quickly criticized the bill and a closely related one called the Fair Campus Act. The list of opponents now includes more than 200 organizations.
At an event marking the 25th anniversary of the Clery Act on Friday, representatives from five student safety groups spoke against the two bills: the American Association of University Women, the Clery Center for Security on Campus, the Association for Student Conduct Administrators, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, and NASPA: Student Affairs Professionals in Higher Education.
Also on Friday, the national offices of seven sororities—Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Gamma Delta, Delta Gamma, Delta Phi Epsilon, Gamma Phi Beta, Phi Mu, and Sigma Delta Tau—also announced that they do not support the Safe Campus Act. They joined sorority Alpha Phi, which had already issued a statement against the bill one day prior.
Late Friday night, the NPC and NIC withdrew their support from the Safe Campus Act. However, the NPC says it will redouble support for the Fair Campus Act, and the NIC adds that several provisions of that bill are important to its organization.
The Fair Campus Act does not include the provision that prevents colleges from investigating sexual assault cases unless victims file a report to police. But it would allow students to hire lawyers for campus misconduct hearings (Kingkade, Huffington Post, 11/13 ; Kingkade, Huffington Post, 11/13 ; Inside Higher Ed, 11/16).