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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: December 18, 2018 04:06 PM
From: Senator Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: Amnesty for reporting assaults
I will shortly reintroduce SB 871 from the 2017-2018 session to increase protections against sexual and domestic violence at postsecondary schools in Pennsylvania.

My proposal would require all institutions of higher education in the Commonwealth to specifically provide in their disciplinary policies for the non-prosecution of drug or alcohol policy violations by a victim or witness that is disclosed in good faith in reporting an assault or stalking incident.

Similar legislation has been enacted in other states, including New York and Minnesota, and a number of Pennsylvania schools, including Penn State, already have adopted similar policies or practices.

While nearly one in four female undergraduate students is the victim of rape or sexual assault by force, violence, or incapacitation during her studies; and male students are 78 percent more likely than their non-student peers to be sexually assaulted, most of these incidents are not reported even to victim support agencies.

Unfortunately, the risk of sanctions for unrelated policy violations makes victims and witnesses fearful to report these incidents. While drug and alcohol use by students is a serious problem that must be addressed, the criminal implications, risks and the emotional and physical harm to victims and the entire school community from sexual and domestic violence demands precedence.

I hope you will lend your support to this important legislation. Co-sponsors last session included Senators Leach, Sabatina, Fontana, Brewster, Farnese, Baker, Browne, Yudichak, Hughes, Costa, Tartaglione and Killion.

Introduced as SB37