Universities have an obligation to create a safe space for students and can be held accountable for failure to act when there are risks of harm. Currently, there are more than 100 universities across the United States who are under investigation by the Office of Civil Rights for the U.S. Department of Education. The schools are being investigated for their handling of sexual assault concerns. Federal laws require schools to take immediate steps to address not just sexual discrimination, but also possible sexual violence or harassment on campus – but schools are clearly failing in this obligation.
To provide more guidance for schools throughout California, and to ensure schools are doing their part to prevent sexual harassment or violence, state lawmakers are considering a package of proposals.
California Students Could See Better Protections from Sexual Assault
Federal laws currently require schools to report the number of sexual assault complaints that are made. Schools must provide details on the dates of the complaints and the general locations where the alleged offenses took place.
However, California lawmakers are considering going further and imposing stricter obligations on universities within the state. One proposal that is part of a broader package of laws being considered, would require universities to disclose the number of complaints they investigate, as well as the number of investigations that resulted in the school finding an alleged perpetrator responsible for wrongdoing. Schools would also need to provide information on the types of disciplinary actions taken when the accused were found responsible for sexual assault or harassment. The proposal would apply to all public and private colleges and universities that receive state funding, including funds for student financial aid.
Other potential new laws that could be applicable to schools receiving state funding in California include:
- Allowing community colleges to suspend or expel students for sexual assault offenses occurring off campus. Current law allows for expulsion or suspicion only for assaults that occur on campus or in relation to campus activities or events.
- Allowing community colleges to require that applicants disclose whether they were ever expelled for sexual assault offenses in the past.
- Requiring all schools to note on transcripts when students are not eligible to re-enroll if they were suspended or expelled due to disciplinary proceedings related to sexual assault.
A required two-year minimum suspension of any student found responsible for sexual assault after a disciplinary hearing was also suggested. However, this proposal was actually removed because colleges were concerned about lawsuits challenging disciplinary decisions.
A Long Beach Injury Lawyer Can Help Assault Victims
Your Injuries are Personal to Me
While these measures could help to improve the way colleges handle assaults and could help to provide broader protection for students from assaults on campus, schools and other organizations still have a long way to go in terms of being proactive in preventing sex crimes from occurring. When any organization is negligent or facilitates abuse through their carelessness, victims may pursue a damage claim with help from an injury lawyer.
The Law Office of Michael D. Waks represents victims who have been harmed by sexual assault. Call the Law Office of Michael D. Waks at 888-394-1174 or use the convenient online contact form to schedule a free consultation.
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