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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: August 30, 2017 03:22 PM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: It's on Us - Institutional amnesty
I will very shortly introduce legislation to strengthen the ability to discover sexual or domestic violence at postsecondary schools in Pennsylvania and to enforce protections against them. My proposal would require all public, state-related and independent institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth to specifically provide amnesty under their disciplinary policies for violations of drug or alcohol restrictions by a victim or other witness that are disclosed in the course of good faith reporting by the victim or witness of an assault or stalking incident.

Similar legislation has been enacted in other states, including New York and Minnesota as part of comprehensive violence prevention policies in those states. A number of Pennsylvania schools, notably including Penn State, already have adopted similar policies or practices.

Nearly one in four female undergraduate students is the victim of rape or sexual assault by force, violence or incapacitation during their studies, and male students are 78 percent more likely than non-student males to become a victim of a sexual assault. However, most such incidents go unreported, even to victim support agencies. Concern that reporting an incident could lead to sanctions on the reporting victim or witness if as a result they admit to policy violations needlessly aggravates under-reporting. Although schools need to confront students' drug and alcohol use seriously, the criminal implications and the physical and emotional harm to the well-being and security of students from sexual and domestic violence must take precedence.

I hope you will support our young women and men by agreeing to co-sponsor this bill.

Introduced as SB871