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house Bill H.R. 3403

Reforming Campus Sexual Assault Investigations

Argument in favor

The federal government needs to ensure that campus sexual assault investigations are conducted fairly. Both parties to an investigation deserve due process and a fair hearing, which often means they need legal representation.

Scott's Opinion
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11/20/2015
School administrators should have no role whatsoever in criminal behavior. Especially violent crimes. If there's an accusation of rape, it should be serious enough for the alleged victim to report it to the police for an honest investigation. The police will not be tempted to take sides for campus politics, and due process with legal representation for the accused will be guaranteed.
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TMGDW's Opinion
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02/09/2016
College administration should have no say in the legal proceedings of any violent crime on campus.
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Linnea's Opinion
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06/08/2016
It is incredibly unconstitutional to not have a fair trial set up for these instances. Faculty must not be "favored" and excused from crimes they committed just because of status or money making capabilities.
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Argument opposed

Existing student conduct procedures on college campuses do enough to preserve due process for students. Administrators need to serve in multiple roles during investigations, and students shouldn’t be able to retain lawyers.

Jared's Opinion
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02/06/2016
I do not agree fully with what this bill entails. Problems I see arising with this bill are that the students that can afford to have the more expensive lawyers are more likely to get off without punishment. I think the bill is heading in the right direction, but it's not there yet.
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GrumpyMSgt's Opinion
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11/21/2015
Local law enforcement should handle these crimes. Not the Feds.
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Eliza's Opinion
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02/10/2016
This would make it harder for rape victims to come forward, it seems this bill is more concerned with protecting rapists than protecting victims
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What is House Bill H.R. 3403?

This bill seeks to improve due process in conduct hearings related to alleged sexual assaults that occur at universities, and expand access to sexual assault prevention programs. It would set forth requirements related to roles that administrators could play during hearings, require the involvement of law enforcement, and ensure that both parties to the investigation receive due process during hearings.

Universities would be required to notify law enforcement of any sexual assault unless the victim requests that law enforcement not be involved, and could not carry out any disciplinary hearings while the law enforcement investigation is ongoing for the first 30 days. If a university chooses not to notify law enforcement without a request by the victim, they would face restrictions on the types of punishment they can levy against the accused individual.

This bill would allow both parties of a university sexual assault investigation to hire attorneys at their own cost to represent them during the investigation. Institutions must provide sufficient notice to both parties, opportunities for the alleged perpetrator to admit or contest the allegation, access to all evidence at least one week before a hearing, and allow for the safe questioning of witnesses. This questioning would be done through written questions that would be asked through an adjudicator, although questions about the sexual history of the complainant would be considered improper unless it is in regard to the sexual history between the accused and the complainant.

Administrators would be prohibited from serving in multiple capacities during the investigation to avoid conflicts of interest. Among the roles that couldn’t be commingled are:

  • Victim counselor or victim advocate;

  • Investigator;

  • Prosecutor;

  • Adjudicator;

  • Appellate adjudicator.

Nothing in this bill would prevent universities from establishing and applying their own standard of proof, or bar individuals from taking civil action.

The single-sex exemption for student organizations, which allows those organizations to only admit women or men, would remain in place as it is under current law. The Washington Post has this nifty breakdown of the bill. IHEs here are Institutions of Higher Education:


Impact

People involved in campus sexual assault investigations, student organizations, universities, law enforcement, and the federal government.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3403

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) called his bill “a much-needed piece of legislation to protect the fundamental due process rights of all parties in campus sexual assault cases.” He went on to add that:

“It protects the rights of student organizations and encourages institutions to offer access to sexual assault prevention programs, further benefitting the student population. Congress must work to address this issue in a manner that is fair to all persons, and the involvement of our justice system in these proceedings is an excellent way to ensure that all parties’ rights are protected.”

Laura Bennett, the President of the Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA), said that her organization “applauds legislation that seeks to better protect and educate students and student-led organizations with regards to campus sexual misconduct” but couldn’t support this bill. In a press release, it was explained that ASCA believes this legislation “interferes with long-established student conduct procedures” and creates a conflict with Title IX, while:

“hinder[ing] institutions’ abilities to properly investigate and respond to potential threats on campus and enable full attorney representation of individuals and organizations in the student conduct process.”


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user chasecarter)

AKA

Safe Campus Act of 2015

Official Title

To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to protect victims of sexual violence, to improve the adjudication of allegations related to sexual violence, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Education and Labor
      Higher Education and Workforce Investment
    IntroducedJuly 29th, 2015
    School administrators should have no role whatsoever in criminal behavior. Especially violent crimes. If there's an accusation of rape, it should be serious enough for the alleged victim to report it to the police for an honest investigation. The police will not be tempted to take sides for campus politics, and due process with legal representation for the accused will be guaranteed.
    Like (81)
    Follow
    Share
    I do not agree fully with what this bill entails. Problems I see arising with this bill are that the students that can afford to have the more expensive lawyers are more likely to get off without punishment. I think the bill is heading in the right direction, but it's not there yet.
    Like (21)
    Follow
    Share
    Local law enforcement should handle these crimes. Not the Feds.
    Like (15)
    Follow
    Share
    College administration should have no say in the legal proceedings of any violent crime on campus.
    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
    It is incredibly unconstitutional to not have a fair trial set up for these instances. Faculty must not be "favored" and excused from crimes they committed just because of status or money making capabilities.
    Like (10)
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    Share
    Send all campus sexual assaults to the local police. College police are on campus to see that drunk or drugged out student make it back to dorms or give traffic citations.
    Like (10)
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    The system is continuously stacked against the victims. That need to change.
    Like (7)
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    The Stanford case is out of control.
    Like (5)
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    Out of fear that sexual assault cases will make headlines and ruin their reputations, Universities are inherently incentivized to conceal these cases or provide a biased investigation to salvage their reputations. This legislation will instead incentivize universities to play a more active role in preventing sexual assault since victims will now be empowered with a fair, objective investigation. This legislation is a powerful step towards providing victims the justice they deserve.
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    They should be handled with care, but every precaution should be taken to prevent false accusations.
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    The patchwork of systems in universities across the country is obviously not working for students on either side of these investigations and created an atmosphere of uncertainty and anxiety over whether students can trust their schools.
    Like (4)
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    They should protect fully the identities of both parties until the case is resolved
    Like (4)
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    This would make it harder for rape victims to come forward, it seems this bill is more concerned with protecting rapists than protecting victims
    Like (4)
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    Sexual assault crimes in colleges need to handled effectively. Sadly, we cannot just trust colleges to address these situations. We need a federal presence with these type of cases going on in colleges.
    Like (4)
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    I think another over reach by the federal government. This should be handled by local law enforcement
    Like (3)
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    College campuses have procedures put in place, but I believe that in order to decrease/eliminate sexual assault, we need fair trials with a third party present and legal help. Too many young men and women on college campuses have had to suffer in silence, struggling with sexual assault. It is very difficult to recount the horrible sexual assault incident in the first place and students feel alone and scared. We also need to speed up the process of getting these cases heard.
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    Campus sexual assault is reaching an epidemic level of occurrences. The number of individuals who have been assaulted to some degree is horrifying. After experiencing this type of trauma you would hope on a human level that the institution they have chosen to invest they're future in would assist them. Instead they find blockades and degradation. They find blame and accusations of their own actions being the causation of these crimes. Clearly the institutions are not being held accountable in a suitable manner. I believe it is therefore the responsibility of our elected officials to step in on behalf of these constituents. To hold the Department of Education responsible for checking on the safety of all students on campus rather than just those who create a profit for the campus.
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    I like this bill because it protects both parties--the victim as well as the accused. The sexual assault will not be reported to law enforcement if the student doesn't want it to be, and the universities can't discipline the accused for 30 days while the investigation is ongoing. If enough evidence is found to pursue criminal charges, then the university can pursue disciplinary actions as well. This provides for some time to investigate before rushing to conclusions and avoiding false accusations.
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    Campus rape is frequently brushed away, with slap on the wrist consequences. Every woman has the right to her own protection; there is NEVER ANY EXCUSE for campus rape. Ever.
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    Getting the govt involved in yet another aspect of our lives is NEVER the solution. The local student govt and admin need to do more but NOT be regulated by the federal govt.
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