Jones seeks to end ‘culture of silence’ concerning sexual assault on college campuses

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved Sen. Rick Jones’ legislation to require university staff who learn about a sexual assault to provide information and support to the victim.

“As we join families in Michigan and across the country in anger at the shocking lack of integrity concerning campus sexual assault, it is time for us to stand up and end this ‘culture of silence’ on our college campuses,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “All reports of sexual assault must be taken seriously, and every victim who has the courage to come forward should be embraced and supported.

“Under this legislation, Michigan has the opportunity to be a leader in ensuring that college students know that there is help if the worst ever happens to them.”

As approved by the committee, Senate Bill 903 would require employees of a postsecondary educational institute, who are notified by a student that they have been a victim of sexual assault, to provide that student with vital information, such as details on campus, local and state resources and services and the state resource handbook for campus sexual assault.

The bill would also create a misdemeanor crime for knowingly discouraging a student from reporting the assault to the proper authorities. Employees who try to discourage a victim from reporting a sexual assault would face up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both.

“I hope this will be one of many steps to increase awareness of sexual assault that is happening on our campuses, empower survivors to speak out for help, give them the resources to help their journey to healing, and eventually end sexual assaults altogether,” Jones said.

SB 903 now heads to the full Senate for consideration.