State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

The State House Sound Bites Podcast is now called State of the State and is a part of PA Post, a digital-first, citizen-focused news organization to hold Pennsylvania’s government accountable to its citizens.

PA passes landmark assault-reporting requirements for colleges

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jul 8, 2019 10:30 PM

Governor Tom Wolf conducted a ceremonial bill-signing Monday. (Katie Meyer/WITF)


(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania is in the early stages of enacting new requirements designed to reduce sexual assault on college campuses.

The two measures were passed as part of the state budget.

One requires colleges and universities to give students an online platform for reporting assault anonymously.

Tracey E. Vitchers, who directs the anti-campus assault group It's On Us, said anonymous platforms can help survivors feel ready to file official reports, and can give schools data on the scale of the problem.

"The data shows that if a student reports at all, it typically takes them about 11 months to actually go into that process officially," she said.

She added, "You can't solve a problem if you don't know the scope of it. And so this at least allows schools to have a sense of, how prevalent is this issue on their college campuses? Are there certain hot spots on campus that are being identified as problem areas?"

The other measure immunizes students who report assault from being disciplined for violating school rules.

Democratic Senator Judy Schwank of Berks County, who sponsored it, said it is "primarily about underage drinking, or possibly drug use."

Schwank and fellow bill sponsor, Luzerne County GOP Senator Lisa Baker, noted that several colleges already enact measures like these.

Pennsylvania is the first state to make anonymous online reporting tools mandatory.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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