TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Higher Education Chair Sandra Cunningham and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr., to create a Campus Sexual Assault Commission, cleared the Senate today.
“Given the national climate, it is of the utmost importance that we hold our institutions accountable and protect our students,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “As we continue working to ameliorate campus sexual assault, it is important we track the impact of our policies and look for ways to improve upon them. This commission will help us ensure accountability and consistency for how colleges in New Jersey address and respond to sexual assault.”
The bill, S-778, would establish a commission comprised of 12 members to study and evaluate emerging issues, policies and practices concerning campus sexual assault. The twelve-member commission would include experts, stakeholders, members of the public and at least one campus sexual assault survivor.
“College campuses should be nurturing and secure environments where students can grow and learn without fear,” said Senator Kean (R-Morris/Somerset/Union). “So many survivors have bravely come forward to share their stories. They deserve justice. By establishing a commission, we can develop real deterrents to combat the campus assault epidemic and keep generations of students safe from sexual violence.”
The commission would meet quarterly to address emerging issues and provide recommendations periodically to policy makers. They would also develop and administer campus climate surveys and create recommendations based on the findings of the surveys.
According to a report by the New Jersey Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault released in June 2017, approximately 20 percent of undergraduate women experience sexual violence while on college campuses around the nation, most often in their first year of school. Data also shows that a larger number of undergraduate students, particularly women, are impacted by sexual violence while on campus.
The bill was released from the Senate by a vote of 39-0.