U.S. Rep. Tom Reed met with student-athletes, Resident Assistants and student mentors from Keuka College in late August to have a conversation about something very close to Reed: preventing sexual assault.
According to the National Institute of Justice, one in five women experiences sexual assault during their college years, a figure that Reed (R-23rd District) hopes to reduce through proposed legislation that focuses on curbing sexual assaults on college campuses.
The Campus Accountability and Safety Act was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate by a bipartisan group including Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Reed and a bipartisan group of 17 other lawmakers are championing the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation sets a number of new provisions in motion to make sure colleges and universities are responsive to the needs of students.
“We’re trying to highlight campus safety and campus accountability when it comes to sexual assault,” said Reed, who talked with members of the College’s women’s volleyball team and men’s and women’s soccer teams at Jephson Community Athletic Complex.
“Between 60 and 70 percent of the sexual assaults on campuses happen within the first six weeks that someone is on a college campus. You are the leaders here on campus, and a lot of students on campus will look up to you as leaders. If you see something, intervene and be true leaders. Together, we’re going to say no more to sexual assault and domestic violence.”
Reed, whose district includes Yates County, is no stranger to the tragedy of sexual assault. His 18-year-old niece was sexually assaulted during a high school prom.
“I share my niece’s story because my family, we watched a beautiful young lady suffer a horrific crime, and it tore our family apart,” Reed told the captive audience, and the message resonated with the crowd.
Avon resident Kelly Bailey is a sophomore on the women’s volleyball team, and the issue of sexual assault on college campuses is an important issue for her. She has a cousin who currently attends college, and Bailey said her cousin was at a party where a recent case of sexual assault occurred.
Bailey said she is heart-broken that these crimes occur on campus, but was encouraged that elected leaders like Reed and Gillibrand were doing everything they can to raise awareness of this issue.
“It’s crazy how frequent the cases of sexual assault are on college campuses,” said Bailey, an adolescent education major with a concentration in math.
“Reporting the problem is a major issue, especially because this can be embarrassing, having something that awful happen to you. I thought it was a great message and it brings a lot to our campus, addressing this issue. I’m training to be a high school math teacher, and this is a big issue in the high schools, too.”
The Campus Accountability and Safety Act takes aim at bolstering both accountability and transparency for colleges and universities, and it creates harsh penalties for a school’s non-compliance. The measure also requires training for on-campus personnel, and gives students access to confidential advisors on campus.
Reed added that he and the staffers from his office are committed to participate in the national program, “No More,” a national organization that seeks to bring awareness of, and end, domestic violence and sexual assault.