Despite being at odds in the debate on military sex assault, Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Claire McCaskill of Missouri are teaming up to tackle sex assault on college campuses.
The two asked for federal funding to better investigate and enforce sex assault laws at universities in a letter sent Friday to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education.
“When our young people go on to higher education, it should be an opportunity to learn, grow, pursue their dreams and prepare for their future careers,” Ms. Gillibrand said in a statement. “But for one in five young women on campuses across America, the college experience becomes their worst nightmare, as victims of sexual assault.
The $109 million request would ensure sex assault cases are properly investigated at the Department of Education and laws are effectively enforced, and also allow the department to hire more specially-trained staff, the letter said.
Ms. McCaskill said that she suspects the investigation will unearth systemic problems much like the military, including low reporting, lack of resources and minimal protection for alleged victims.
“After being victimized by a crime as deeply traumatic and personal as a sexual assault, no young man or woman should be left to fend for themselves,” Ms. McCaskill said. “Our schools must provide the highest level of responsiveness to ensure that victims are protected and empowered, and that perpetrators don’t get a free pass.”
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