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The Safe Campus Act Needs to be Stopped

Kaitlin Mahar

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 But First, It Needs to be Noticed

Everybody remembers the outrage we all felt when Columbia University made little-to-no effort to aid Emma Sulkowicz in her plight to get justice in the wake of the University’s refusal to expel or take action against the student who raped her in 2012. Even after using the mattress upon which the crime was committed as a performance piece by carrying it around wherever she went, the University refused to take action. Even when Columbia received so much bad publicity for the way it handled the incident, the University refused to take action. Even when Sulkowicz carried the mattress at her graduation ceremony, with the help of her peers, many of whom supported her in her plight, the University refused to take action.

Now, imagine every college in America having the same reaction to rape as Columbia, which, by many standards, is one of the top universities in our nation. Imagine lesser-known universities that aren’t as often in the public eye treating rape the same way as Columbia treated Sulkowicz’ rape, and being able to get off scot-free for doing so. That’s what The Safe Campus Act would allow colleges nationwide to do, and yet, hardly anybody is talking about it or even taking notice.

According to The Huffington Post, The Safe Campus Act is a bill that is currently up for debate in the House of Representatives that would “prevent colleges from investigating allegations of sexual assault as violations of their student code of conduct.” The only time these colleges would be forced to investigate any incident of sexual assault is if the victim also reports the incident to the police.

What I want to know is why nobody is talking about this act (which, despite it’s cleverly-worded name, is anything but safe). I myself didn’t even know about it until I happened to click on an article with a headline about a “major college organization,” which, upon further reading, was Alpha Phi sorority, opposing the act. Upon further investigation, I found that many sororities and fraternities, including Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, and the Sigma Nu fraternity, not only supported the bill, but they also turned to Sen. Trent Lott, a Republican from Mississippi, to lobby for the passing of the bill. Yes, you read that right – they wanted the bill to be passed. And after raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the bill, these Greek organizations withdrew their support last week after Alpha Phi and seven other sororities (included Delta Phi Epsilon, which has a chapter on our campus) publicly denounced The Safe Campus Act.

And yet, still, it seems as though no one is talking about this and what a danger it poses to our school community.

The Safe Campus Act not only encourages sexual violence against both women and men (because yes, men can get raped too), but it says that these incidents are not a problem. The fact that anybody would support this bill is harrowing, but the fact that so few people even know about it is even worse. This bill doesn’t just put ourselves and our peers at risk – it serves as a danger to our sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, nieces and nephews, the list goes on. It is a bill of which everyone should at least be aware, even if, for God knows what reason, you don’t have an opinion on it.

I have no idea why this bill would be ever be seriously considered, much less supported, by anyone, but what I do know is this: instead of talking about how we’re all going to vote for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump months from now, we should be exercising our rights to contact our representatives and oppose this bill, because politics is about more than just voting your party. To support The Safe Campus Act is to support rape, plain and simple.

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The Student News Source of the University of New Haven
The Safe Campus Act Needs to be Stopped