Many institutions of higher education receive funding from the government under the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA). Every few years, the law is amended, and if schools want to continue to get that cash flow, they have to comply with new rules.
H.R. 5277 — the Survivor Outreach and Support (SOS) Campus Act — if enacted, would be one such amendment. This bill would be require colleges that fall under HEA to hire an independent advocate to assist students who have experienced sexual assault. These advocates would also be responsible for spearheading campaigns to educate about sexual assault prevention.
Something that makes H.R. 5277 unique from it's predecessors is that it requires the advocate to be independent. He or she must represent the needs of the student, even when those needs are in conflict with the interests of the school. The advocate must also ensure that students who have experienced sexual assault have access to:
- Information on how to report a sexual assault to law enforcement, their rights, and available legal services
- Medical care and medical forensic examinations
- Crisis intervention
The advocate may also attend institution-based adjudications at the request of the student.