Yingling Passes Bill to Curb Sexual Assaults on College Campuses

04/23/2015

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – State Rep. Sam Yingling, D-Grayslake, passed a measure on Wednesday to expand the rights of victims, and aides school staff in dealing with such cases in an effective and compassionate manner. Yingling worked with Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office to deliver a serious blow to the rising number of sexual assaults plaguing colleges across Illinois. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in five women is the victim of a sexual assault or attempted rape during their undergraduate years.

“It is absolutely atrocious that we live in a day and age where students may not feel safe in school and fear being ostracized if they report being the victim of heinous crimes such as rape,” Yingling said. “If we are to reduce the number of sexual assaults on our campuses, we need to work with our colleges, prosecutors, public safety officials and most importantly the victims to truly reduce incidents and this measure is a big step in the right direction.”

House Bill 821 would encourage increased reporting of alleged attacks by demanding that schools provide victims and witnesses the right to report incidents confidentially. The bill also makes colleges provide survivors with confidential advisors, who will work with students to report alleged crimes and ensure that they receive accommodations provided under the bill. Schools will also implement prevention and awareness training programs for students who take at least one on campus class. According to the Office of the Attorney General, the vast majority of sexual assaults on college campuses are not reported, but proactive education and protections for witnesses dramatically increase the number of cases brought forward.

“It is clear that the number of incidents involving sexual violence is still frighteningly high, and many survivors feel that the response of institutions is lacking,” Attorney General Madigan said. “Colleges and universities have a legal and moral obligation to respond effectively and investigate allegations to the fullest extent of the law. We must make sure that every student of higher education in Illinois is provided a safe environment to learn.”

House Bill 821 is awaiting consideration in the Senate.
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