Bill supported by Assemblywoman Russell passes, strengthens 1999 Campus Safety Act
Wednesday, May 7, 2014 - 5:41 pm

A bill sponsored by Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) recently passed, strengthening the 1999 Campus Safety Act requiring colleges to report violent felonies and missing students to police within 24 hours of an incident.

Russell represents all St. Lawrence County towns along the St. Lawrence River plus Canton, Potsdam, Rossie, Macomb and DePeyester. Four local colleges are represented in this area including Clarkson, St. Lawrence University, SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Canton.

“Sexual assault on college campuses is an epidemic that has no place in our society and will no longer be tolerated,” Russell said. “This bill, with clear and specific reporting requirements, ensures our colleges and universities act swiftly to protect students and provide victims with justice.”

Russell noted that this legislation is crucial to dealing with violent felonies, such as sexual assaults, that have remained an intractable problem on college campuses across the nation.

The legislation updates the Act by requiring all colleges and universities to report all violent felonies and missing persons to local law enforcement no more than 24 hours after the incident is reported to the college or university itself.

To protect confidentiality, the bill incorporates applicable components of the federal Campus Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights, which gives victim of a sexual offense the right to decide whether or not to report such an offense to local law enforcement.

Research indicates that sexual assault on college campuses is chronically underreported. Studies show that one in five women are sexually assaulted while they are in college, however, just 12 percent of such attacks are reported. In most cases, the victim’s attacker is an acquaintance, classmate or former boyfriend.

“As parents, we work to instill values in our children that compel them to stand up to these horrible crimes and do the right thing,” Assemblywoman Russell said. “It is our responsibility to put laws in place that provide a meaningful response when claims are made and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.”

In recognition of the need to reduce sexual assault on college campuses, the White House and federal legislators have recently made efforts to raise awareness of this often underreported crime.

A PSA was recently released in which male celebrities encouraged men to be a part of the solution to the problem. To view the video and find additional resources regarding enforcement data and other sexual assault resources visit www.NotAlone.gov.