This bill seeks to improve due process in conduct hearings related to alleged sexual assaults that occur at universities, and expand access to sexual assault prevention programs. It would set forth requirements related to roles that administrators could play during hearings, require the involvement of law enforcement, and ensure that both parties to the investigation receive due process during hearings.
Universities would be required to notify law enforcement of any sexual assault unless the victim requests that law enforcement not be involved, and could not carry out any disciplinary hearings while the law enforcement investigation is ongoing for the first 30 days. If a university chooses not to notify law enforcement without a request by the victim, they would face restrictions on the types of punishment they can levy against the accused individual.
This bill would allow both parties of a university sexual assault investigation to hire attorneys at their own cost to represent them during the investigation. Institutions must provide sufficient notice to both parties, opportunities for the alleged perpetrator to admit or contest the allegation, access to all evidence at least one week before a hearing, and allow for the safe questioning of witnesses. This questioning would be done through written questions that would be asked through an adjudicator, although questions about the sexual history of the complainant would be considered improper unless it is in regard to the sexual history between the accused and the complainant.
Administrators would be prohibited from serving in multiple capacities during the investigation to avoid conflicts of interest. Among the roles that couldn’t be commingled are:
Victim counselor or victim advocate;
Nothing in this bill would prevent universities from establishing and applying their own standard of proof, or bar individuals from taking civil action.
The single-sex exemption for student organizations, which allows those organizations to only admit women or men, would remain in place as it is under current law. The Washington Post has this nifty breakdown of the bill. IHEs here are Institutions of Higher Education: