By Bob Katzen

The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that would require public and private institutions of higher education in the state to conduct high-quality campus sexual misconduct climate surveys at least once every four years and annually report survey results on its website.

Provisions include requiring colleges and universities to adopt policies on sexual misconduct involving students and employees and publish the policies on their website; requiring these schools to adopt memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement agencies to establish respective roles and responsibilities for each party related to the prevention and response to on-campus and off-campus sexual misconduct; requiring schools to provide campus safety and sexual misconduct data and outreach information in an accessible format on its website and contact information for resources available to reporting students and employees; and requiring all colleges and universities to provide free access to a sexual assault crisis service center either on-campus or off-campus by entering into and maintaining a memorandum of understanding with a community-based sexual assault crisis center and a community-based domestic violence program.

Sens. Michael Moore (D-Millbury), Will Brownsberger (D-Belmont) and Adam Hinds (D-Pittsfield) all sponsored earlier versions of the bill and also supported the new version that was drafted by the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

“Making sure that colleges and universities in the commonwealth are as best equipped as possible to handle cases of sexual assault has been one of my top priorities,” said Moore. “By providing a comprehensive framework for our higher education institutions, we will ensure that alleged instances of sexual assault are properly handled.”

“Survivors need a channel to speak about their experiences,” noted Brownsberger. “This bill will help and will also promote safer campus environments.”

“We must create a culture and a system that supports the community members of higher educational institutions who report acts of sexual violence and thoroughly investigates those reports,” said Hinds. “I plan to work alongside the Legislature to enact a strong set of standards that college communities can rely on.”

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