May 14, 2014

Editorial: New leadership for Gillibrand

New York state’s junior senator is appearing anything but a junior senator lately, taking the lead on issues that have been crying out for a leader for too long. One of them is sexual assaults on America’s campuses.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has publicly applauded initial steps recommended by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault after carrying the torch on this issue for some time.

The Task Force was appointed and charged following growing numbers of reports of campus sexual crimes. Among the early steps is an annual survey of campus assaults, as most go unreported, leaving this serious issue often to anecdotal evidence.

Experts say 1 in 5 female college students will be sexually assaulted in some fashion during their college careers — very often incidents taking place under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Here was Gillibrand’s reaction to news of the Task Force’s findings:

“The price of a college education should never include a 1-in-5 chance of being sexually assaulted. I am pleased the Task Force recommended the important initial step of a mandatory survey, which has consistently been the No. 1 request of student survivors and advocates. But for these reforms to have a lasting effect to keep our students safe, Congress needs to act. I will continue working with my colleagues to build a bipartisan coalition that will take legislative action mandating this survey among other much needed reforms.

“I also want to commend the student survivors and activists who, through their courage, selflessness and concern for others, have pushed this issue out of the shadows and into the national spotlight.”

College administrators may not want to admit it, but Gillibrand — and common sense — tells you they would not welcome compelling evidence that points to frequent sexual assaults on their campuses. After all, they are competing with other schools for students, who need to feel secure in enrolling in their college of choice.

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