Attorney General pushes for Prevention of Sexual Violence Act

By Caeli Clearly

Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act earned majority approval from the Illinois House.

She has received praise for her efforts as she continues to push for senate approval.

Karyn Bass Ehler, chief of the Civil Rights Bureau in Madigan’s office, said this act makes sure all state schools in Illinois will have a sexual violence prevention plan, which will include programs and resources for students to report and respond to violence committed against them.

She said the act will create a framework for institutions on how to improve their practices and initiatives concerning sexual assault and sexual violence on campus.

“Our goal is to raise the floor for all Illinois students so no matter where they go to college they’ll have access to the same quality resources,” Ehler said.

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Matt Hill, Illinois Student Senate vice president-external, said the It’s On Us campaign is one way the University approaches the prevention of sexual assault.

He said it is aimed at changing the culture around sexual violence, and Madigan’s new legislation will further aid university efforts to combat sexual assault.

“A state law is just going to be another piece of the puzzle to fit into addressing sexual assault on campuses nationwide,” Hill said. “There are lots and lots of different rules and regulations that universities are scrambling to comply with, but we need this.”

Ehler said the Act provides for flexibility in how the prevention program and education is presented, but it requires annual training for students and staff members.

Molly McLay, assistant director of the Women’s Resources Center, said the University already has several procedures and programs in place to prevent sexual violence. The Act would be another avenue for the University to use its resources to target combatting sexual violence and assault.

“Students have a number of mechanisms in which to report a sexual assault either confidentially or non-confidentially,” McLay said. “We offer a number of programs and lectures throughout the year on sexual assault prevention and we also are leaders in the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign, which does a lot with public awareness.”

According to the Women’s Resource Center website, the center offers sexual violence prevention programs such as the First Year Campus Acquaintance Rape Education Workshop and Bystander Intervention Training, which are designed to educate students on ways to prevent sexual assault, while also providing resources to victims.

“I think we’re doing good but we have to do better,” Hill said. “Students on campus are a lot more aware of this problem, but we need to make sure that justice is served against perpetrators and that those people are not allowed to be a part of our community.”

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