Proposed legislation raises concerns on campus

Several members of the Missouri Southern campus community met with US Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, on Oct. 7 to discuss her proposed legislation to prevent sexual assault on campuses nationwide.

McCaskill’s proposed act, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, will implement five major changes to the current process of preventing and dealing with sexual assault cases.

If implemented, the proposed legislation will: 1.) establish new campus resources and support services for students, 2.) ensure that on-campus personnel have met minimum training standards, 3.) create new transparency requirements, 4.) increase campus accountability and coordination with law enforcement, and 5.) establish enforceable Title IX penalties and stiffer penalties for Clery Act violations.

Darren Fullerton, vice president of student affairs, was among the employees who attended the event.  

According to Fullerton, the majority of McCaskill’s points were about addressing the matter after it had happened.

But Southern is trying to curtail the problem before it happens.

“One thing we need to focus on is the education side to try and prevent it from happening rather than reacting after the situation comes up,” said Fullerton.

Ron Mitchell, dean of students and Title IX coordinator, in an address to Student Senate, stressed a similar sentiment to Fullerton.

“We are going to search problems out, we are going to find them and we are going to prevent them,” said Mitchell. “We are shooting for education and we are shooting for prevention.”

While Southern employees believe McCaskill’s intentions are good, they and other university employees do have a few concerns. One problem with the new legislation, according to Fullerton, is that it will prevent counselors from reporting rape to administrators, in turn making it harder for university officials to respond swiftly.

“The new legislation would strengthen the confidentiality part where the advisers couldn’t report to the university even if there is a perceived danger of a rapist on campus,” said Fullerton. “If they [counselors] can’t report to us, we can’t act in a timely fashion, so there are some differences with the new legislation.”

Southern is currently in compliance with Title IX policies. If students or faculty witness or hear of a sexual assault, they should report it to Mitchell.