WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - It's another push to rid college campuses of sexual assault. Senators on Capitol Hill are pushing a bill that would encourage campuses to take a more serious approach toward combating the issue.
"In 2007 I was sexually assaulted,” said Annie Clark, at the time a student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Clark was a victim and couldn’t find help. Nearly a decade later, she stood beside a bipartisan group of senators Tuesday, trying to reform one of the ugliest characteristics of American institutions. The problem? The Campus Accountability and Safety Act has been stalled in the Senate for over a year.
"It is a little bit frustrating that it has been stalled for so long, but we are optimistic to get it to the floor,” said Clark.
The legislation, spearheaded by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), is sitting in committee.
"There aren’t many things around here that have this bipartisan support, so let’s get busy and get this one across the finish line,” said McCaskill.
The bill has a long list of reforms for handling sexual assault on college campuses: Enhanced cooperation between campuses and law enforcement, standardized student surveys on sexual assault, better training for on-campus personnel, and much more.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is one of seven Republicans who signed onto the bill.
"We started from the premise that sexual assault is a serious crime and should be treated as a crime,” said Grassley.
Gillibrand says with the wide support on and off Capitol Hill, she thinks they can push it through this year.
"This is a victim-led movement,” said Gillibrand. “(It is a) survivor-led movement. These are women and men who have gone through hell.”
"The bill is not a silver bullet, but it is an amazing first step,” said Clark.
For Annie and the hundreds of thousands like her each year, the bipartisan group says they’ll keep fighting for what they call a nonpartisan issue.