Del. Jon S. Cardin to Introduce Bill to Reduce Sexual Assaults on College Campuses

Legislation would be the first that specifically addresses campus security for sexual assault victims in Maryland history

Annapolis, MD – Delegate Jon S. Cardin plans to introduce legislation requiring Maryland colleges and universities to publicly report all incidences of sexual assault on their campuses and to provide services for individuals harmed by these assaults. Confidential sexual assault surveys designed by the Maryland Higher Education Commission will be distributed to students to accurately capture the number and nature of sexual assaults on campuses. This data will be used to keep our young adults safe. Additionally, the legislation requires each school to have a victim advocate on campus to objectively and confidentially aid individuals caught up in the trauma of sexual assault.

Delegate Cardin said, “25% of college women are victimized by rape or attempted rape during college[1].  The lack of substantial action on this outrageous epidemic of sexual assault represents a legal and moral failure on multiple levels.  That our colleges and universities are reporting significantly lower numbers than all other surveys should raise an eyebrow to anyone concerned about student safety.  Colleges and universities have a duty to know exactly how safe their campuses are and to make this information public as well. When you send your kid off to college, you and your child deserve to know how safe their campus is.”

While campuses nationwide have begun to respond to the outcry for safer campuses in recent years, Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER), graded over 80% of U.S. Campuses a C or lower in a recently released nationwide study on campus responses to sexual assault. They went on to say that “Underreporting represents a pressing problem in cases of sexual assault, and confidential and anonymous reporting options may encourage survivors to come forward.”[2]

Nancy Cantalupo, Esquire, a Research Fellow at the Victim Rights Law Center, a researcher at Georgetown Law, and an advisor in Delegate Cardin’s effort to pass meaningful campus sexual assault legislation stated, “This legislation will make Maryland a leader in innovative campus sexual violence prevention.  Decades of research have shown that, nationwide, although  approximately a quarter of women will be victimized while in college, very few sexual violence victims ever report it to law enforcement or campus authorities.  As a result, unless colleges and universities survey their students about this violence, they have an inaccurate understanding of the scope and extent of the violence among their students.  In addition, they cannot assess whether the violence prevention methods they’ve adopted are actually reducing rates of violence.  This legislation will assist Maryland’s colleges and universities in collecting data about the rates of sexual violence among their students and the extent to which each institution’s interventions in this violence are helping to prevent and reduce it.  No other state in the U.S. has done this on a state-wide basis.”

She continues, “In addition, this legislation will adopt a particular intervention method that has been repeatedly shown to improve campus responses to sexual violence: a victim’s advocacy office.  Providing such a service to students is a well-documented best practice for effective intervention into campus sexual violence.”

Delegate Cardin concluded, “we have so many wonderful schools here in Maryland, and I am proud of their work to educate our young people. This bill ends the perverse incentive of schools to under report sexual assaults by putting all Maryland schools on equal footing and will make us all safer. Finally, I want to be clear, this bill is not about denigrating any Maryland institution, but rather, it is about making sure all of our children are safe and protected.”