Sen. Tim Kaine introduces bill to support survivors of sexual assault on college campuses

The U.S. Capitol building.
Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 5:08 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - US Virginia Senator Tim Kaine is working to support survivors of sexual assault on college campuses. He has introduced a bill called the Survivor Outreach and Support on Campus Act.

If this bill is passed, it would require universities and colleges who received federal financial assistance through Title IX to add an independent and confidential advocate for students who experience sexual assault.

At the University of Virginia, they say this would add to the support system they already have in place.

“We know this is a problem. It’s a problem nationwide,” UVA Title IX Coordinator Meredith Smith said.

Now, Congress has the opportunity to pass a bill that would help protect survivors of sexual assault on college campuses.

“We’re dealing with a significant problem that affects people in the young years of their life, and if we’re going to be about prevention, we need to get to people when they’re young, and to all kinds of people to equip them with information and knowledge about where to seek help,” Senator Tim Kaine said.

At UVA, there are several resources to support students, including a victim liaison at the UVA police department, a case manager, and a partnership with the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, or SARA.

“We’re really proud of how comprehensive our survivor support is here at the university. Every university should be providing multiple places for folks to turn to for help, because some resources might be what folks need and others aren’t,” Smith said.

The SOS Campus Act would add an independent advocate for campus sexual assault prevention and response.

“It would require campuses to have designated resources in this kind of support space to help students know how to access counseling, and to help students know how to file complaints with local law enforcement authorities if they would choose to do that,” Sen. Kaine said.

Senator Kaine says it’s about prevention first.

“When prevention fails, you’ve got to have a process, but then you also have to have resources for survivors,” Sen. Kaine said.

“We just want to make sure that you know that you’re not alone and you have a lot of options available,” Smith said.

In order to pass this bill, the Senate would look to attach it to other measures.

“There may be other education bills that move out of our committee that we could connect this to, or other bills dealing with sexual assault and sexual harassment, even if not on college campuses, that we could connect this to,” Sen. Kaine said.

Right now, the bill has just been introduced. It would need to pass through the House and Senate before it can be signed into law.

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