COLUMBIA, SC (WCBD) – Universities across South Carolina are working with students to not only prevent sexual assaults but to ensure victims feel safe enough to report assaults.
That’s the goal of at least two bills filed by Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell of Lancaster.
One bill allows a college student to drop a class following an assault. The S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault says making sure a victim is comfortable and able to express themselves is important.
“For on-campus communities, if you have victims and survivors who are in the same class, same dorm or same club that can be very upsetting to them. Or if the perpetrator may be manipulating them to not say anything,” Katie Reid explained.
Another bill prevents a university from taking action against a victim or witness to sexual assault.
Representative Powers Norrell explained why this was included in her bill.
“We hear about so many students who say ‘I’m not going to report this because I was drinking or smoking marijuana and I don’t want to be expelled for my honor code violation,’ or ‘I’m not going to report what I saw because it didn’t involve me,’ and ‘I don’t want to get in trouble because I was doing something wrong.'”
Powers Norrell has also filed a bill that would extend Freedom of Information Act reporting of sexual assaults to private institutions.
The bills are currently in the House Judiciary Committee
Current legislation requires colleges and universities to have a comprehensive sexual assault policy and programs for survivors.