A new bill plans to take aim at how higher education institutions gather data on sexual violence on Massachusetts campuses, and also ensure resources are available to sexual violence victims.
The bill was one of those passed by state lawmakers well after midnight on Wednesday, and headed for Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk, according to CommonWealth Magazine.
Among several measures, the bill endeavors to create a “sexual misconduct climate survey” that would be administered at least every four years to students. It would ask them questions about reported and unreported incidents on campus, whether they know the campus’s policies regarding sexual misconduct, and if they’re aware of available resources. A task force set up by the state would develop sample questions of what a college or university’s survey would include, the proposed law says.
Each school would then post an analysis of the results, which would be anonymous, according to the proposed law.
The bill also would ensure colleges and universities have up-to-date policies on sexual misconduct, and make sure they’re on the school’s website and are easy to find.
Each school would also have a “confidential resource provider” whose contact information would be easily accessible on its website, as well as the phone number for hotlines that have resources on sexual misconduct.
“I am extremely proud of my colleagues in the Senate and the House for helping me ensure the safety of students on college and university campuses throughout the Commonwealth,” state Sen. Michael Moore said in a statement to Boston.com on Thursday. Moore introduced the bill in December, State House News Service reported.
“By providing a framework to handle alleged instances of sexual assault, this legislation will make sure that alleged instances of such are properly handled at higher education institutions,” Moore said. “Furthermore, this bill makes sure the voices of victims are heard and will bring justice to those who engage in sexual misconduct.”
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