Senator Chris Brown’s bill creating the Campus Sexual Assault Commission passed the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee recently.
Sen. Chris Brown’s bill creating the Campus Sexual Assault Commission passed the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee recently. (SenateNJ.com)
“It is heartbreaking and simply unacceptable that women continue to be assaulted on campus. Our college women deserve to be free from fear and their families free from worry. Predators have no place anywhere in society, especially on our college campuses,” said Brown.
The Campus Sexual Assault Commission would implement policies and practices to end campus sexual assault.
“Sexual assault violence is a widespread social problem that needs to be dealt with head on,” said Brown, whose daughter is a freshman at Atlantic Cape Community College. “Mothers and fathers all over New Jersey send their children to college expecting them to be safe, which is why we need to do everything possible to protect our families’ loved ones from predators.”
According to news accounts, there were 138 reported rapes at New Jersey’s four-year colleges and universities in 2016. Reports of of other sexual crimes increased also. Experts attribute these increases to efforts by colleges and universities to encourage students to report sexual assaults on campus. According to the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, up to 25 percent of college women and 15 percent of men experience sexual violence. Eleven percent of students nationwide will experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
“It takes courage for women who are survivors to come forward. We need to match their courage with action,” said Brown.
In order to address the issue, Brown is working in a bi-partisan manner with Senate Higher Education Chairwoman Sandra Cunningham. “Enough already, we’ve reached a crisis level where the State needs to take immediate action and prepare a comprehensive plan to put an end to the violence,” Brown said.
Brown’s bill, S-778, would establish a Campus Sexual Assault Commission to:
- Implement policies, and practices to end campus sexual assault;
- Implement and monitor the recommendations issued by the commission; and
- Develop an action plan every three years that includes policies, programs, or procedures responsive to the issues and needs identified by the commission.
Under Brown’s bill, the commission will consist of 12 members including:
- The Secretary of Higher Education, the Attorney General, and the Director of the Division on Women in the Department of Children and Families, or their designees, who will serve ex officio;
- Five public members appointed by the Governor, including a representative of the State colleges and universities, a representative of the public research universities, a representative of the county colleges, a representative of the independent colleges and universities, and a representative of the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault; and
Four public members with demonstrated expertise or interest in issues related to the work of the commission, including at least one individual who is a campus sexual assault survivor. The President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly, the Minority Leader of the Senate, and the Minority Leader of the General Assembly will each appoint one of these public members. Public members will serve for a term of three years.
The bill requires the commission to organize as soon as practicable, but no later than 60 days after the effective date of the bill’s enactment. The commission will meet quarterly, at a minimum.
The bill now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.