Washington, D.C. – Although great strides have been made in advancing protections against sexual violence on college campuses, students with disabilities still suffer a disproportionate number of violent sexual crimes. A recent report from the National Council on Disability, “Not on the Radar: Sexual Assault of College Students with Disabilities,” found that the needs of these students are often not addressed under existing policies. To address this gap and build upon the work of the landmark Jeanne Clery Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), alongside U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), introduced the Safe Equitable Campus Resources and Education (SECuRE) Act. U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“While my Campus SaVE legislation helped improve reporting and access to support services for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, more can and must be done for students with disabilities,” said Senator Casey. “This legislation will help ensure that all students, regardless of whether or not they have a disability, have access to the resources they need to feel safe at school. It’s past time we step up for them and I urge my colleagues to support the SECuRE Act.”
“All students have the right to be safe and to not fear that they will be sexually assaulted, yet sexual harassment and violence continue to occur at alarmingly high rates on college campuses across the country,” Senator Hassan said. “While there has been some increased awareness and progress in addressing sexual assault on campuses, students who experience disabilities – who face higher rates of sexual violence than students without disabilities – are often ignored or relegated to second-class status when it comes to combating sexual assault. I am introducing this legislation with Senator Casey to ensure that all students impacted by sexual violence have access to the resources and supports they need when these unconscionable incidents occur."
“Every student deserves to learn and study in an environment that is safe and free from harassment and assault,” said Congresswoman Dingell. “Despite suffering from sexual violence at nearly double the rate of their peers, it is clear that students with disabilities are slipping through the cracks when it comes to campus efforts to prevent and respond to sexual assault. This must change. The SECuRE Act ensures the needs of students with disabilities are taken into account in campus planning and response efforts, and that resources provided to the campus community are accessible to everyone. This is a critical step in our effort to combat campus sexual assault and ensure all survivors have a place to turn.”
Specifically, the SECuRE Act would:
- Require institutions to report how many of the sex offenses, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking incidents reported involved a victim who was an individual with a disability.
- Ensure that campus policies for emergency response and evacuation take into account the needs of individuals with disabilities.
- Require that all reports, materials and information required under the Clery Act be made available in accessible formats and in a timely manner.
- Expand the risk reduction component of prevention and awareness programs to include abusive behavior and attacks targeting individuals with disabilities.
- Require an assurance that campus security personnel and individuals responsible for providing the required information under the Clery Act are trained to work with individuals with disabilities.
- Require institutional disciplinary proceedings to be conducted by officials who receive training on how to work with individuals with disabilities, and that the proceedings themselves be accessible to individuals with disabilities.
- Permit an individual with a disability who is the accuser or the accused individual to be accompanied to any meeting or proceeding by an interpreter or other individual providing communication assistance services, in addition to his or her advisor of choice.
- Require the written notice of the outcome of a disciplinary proceeding be provided in an accessible format if required.
- Require campus policies to include information about the accommodations available to individuals with disabilities with respect to the programs and procedures outlined in the Clery Act.
The SECuRE Act has been endorsed by:
- Advocates Building Lasting Equality in New Hampshire (ABLE NH)
- American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
- The Arc of Pennsylvania
- The Arc of the United States
- Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)
- Autism Society of America
- Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)
- Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA)
- Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
- Clery Center
- Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA)
- Family Voices
- Little Lobbyists
- National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD)
- National Association of State Directors of Special Education
- National Council on Independent Living (NCIL)
- National Disability Rights Network
- National Down Syndrome Congress (NDSC)
- Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, LLC (SAFE Campuses, LLC)
The SECuRE Act is also recommended and supported by the National Council on Disability, a federal advisory body.