The state of Pennsylvania enacted two new pieces of legislation earlier this week, paving the way for additional sexual assault prevention measures to take place on college campuses.
On Monday, Governor Tom Wolf signed two campus safety bills to better protect men and women from sexual assault on college campuses across the state. The legislation also aims to embolden survivors and witnesses to report incidents of sexual assault they might experience.
One bill, backed by Senator Judy Schwank, protects students reporting sexual assault from being disciplined for violating school drug, alcohol, or other policies. The other bill, championed by Senator Lisa Baker and Representative Dan Frankel, would require higher education institutions to offer online, anonymous options for students to report sexual assaults.
“This bipartisan effort gives a voice to survivors and witnesses to report sexual assaults and break the silence that’s too often part of campus culture,” Governor Wolf said in a statement. “Sexual assault must never be tolerated and the reforms in these new laws create a path for more legislative progress in the future.”
A signing ceremony for both pieces of legislation was held on Monday. State and national leaders of It’s On Us, a movement fighting against sexual assault on college campuses, were in attendance.
Senator Baker, who was also present at the ceremony, said that Pennsylvania is at the forefront of the nation in providing crucial funding for colleges and universities to better address assaults on campuses.
“The reluctance of assault victims to report these acts to authorities blocks their chances for justice and helps understate the scope and severity of the problem,” Baker said.
“The requirement for colleges and universities to offer accessible and confidential avenues of reporting is a crucial beginning step in creating a safer campus environment,” he added.