As University of Iowa police investigate the latest report of a sexual assault on campus, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is taking part in a hearing in Washington D.C. today on legislation he says aims to empower and protect students. Grassley, a Republican, is cosponsoring a bill called the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which he says would strengthen accountability and transparency for institutions.
“To bring out cooperation between university and law enforcement,” Grassley says, “and to raise issue about the problem of sexual assault.” Colleges need to do a better job of handling reports of sexual assault, Grassley says. He adds, sexual assault is not some code of conduct violation, it is a major criminal offense. Like with any crime, Grassley says, “weak enforcement makes the problem worse.”
He says the legislation, before the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, is needed and colleges would face penalties for noncompliance. Grassley says, “To bring attention to the fact a rape is a rape and it ought to be treated as a law enforcement issue and just as soon as it’s treated as the law enforcement crime that it is, people on campuses will soon get the message that you can’t get away with rape.” In a statement, Grassley says the “current system of requiring colleges to report sexual assaults to the federal government results in non-reporting, under-reporting and non-compliance with the already weak standards under current federal law.”
The bipartisan legislation is designed to make it in the schools’ immediate best interest to take proactive steps to protect their students and rid their campuses of sexual predators. In the latest Iowa City case, a female U-of-I student says she was sexually assaulted by a stranger in a residence hall on Friday night.