Bucks County Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican, and U.S. Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), and Annie Kuster (D-NH) introduced H.R. 6464, the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) Campus Sexual Violence Act on July 23. The Act is meant to strengthen prevention and enforcement efforts to combat sexual violence on campuses.
Under federal law, students are entitled to an educational environment free of sexual harassment and violence. However, the National Institute of Justice estimated that 63 percent of universities shirk their legal responsibilities when responding to these violent crimes.
“Our institutions of higher education must be held accountable for lax policies against sexual violence occurring on their campuses. Young women and men attending college deserve the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive in a safe environment, free from fear,” Fitzpatrick said.
“The HALT Act ensures that universities take every possible step to eradicate sexual violence on college campuses. With nearly one-in-five young women, and six-percent of young men likely to experience some type of sexual violence on campus, Congress must act to keep our youth safe,” he added.
The HALT Act would strengthen prevention efforts and the enforcement of laws to combat campus sexual violence by:
- Allowing the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to issue financial penalties for noncompliance with civil rights requirements under Title IX;
- Increasing penalties for violating the Clery Act from $35,000 to $100,000;
- Creating a private right of action for students harmed by institutions that fail to meet campus safety requirements;
- Instituting biennial climate surveys;
- Requiring public disclosure of a list of colleges and universities under investigation for violations of Title IX and the Clery Act, the sanctions (if any) or findings issued pursuant to such investigations, and copies of all program reviews and resolution agreements entered into between a university, ED, and the Department of Justice;
- Increasing funding for Title IX and Clery investigators by $5 million;
- Expanding requirements for notifying and publicly posting students’ legal rights and universities’ obligations under Title IX;
- And creating an interagency task force to increase coordination between agencies and enhance investigations.