Two bills that would make campuses more dangerous passed House committees on Monday and are going to the House Floor for a vote.
“Campus rape cover-up”
The first bill would make it more difficult for rape victims to decide how and when they report their rapes. Schools would not be allowed to initiate their own investigation or pursue disciplinary action against a student unless he or she was convicted of sexual assault.
Under Rep. Earl Ehrhart’s proposed law, if a rape victim makes a report on campus, the person they tell would be required to notify the police, making it less likely that rape victims will seek help at all. The bill would also prevent universities from investigating campus rape allegations unless a criminal investigation was already underway.
Many students fear that this bill will protect sexual predators and will do nothing to decrease sexual assault or protect those who have been assaulted. “This bill will not protect the victims or the accused,” Grace Starling, who was sexually assaulted, and is now in law school, spoke out against the bill.
“This is not right. We are scared of this legislation.” She continued, “If you pass this bill you will take away our voice,” she said. “You will take away our ability to direct our own lives.”
Unfortunately, attacking rape victims is nothing new for Ehrhart. In fact, he actually sued the Dept. of Ed. over the treatment of those accused of sexual assault. “I have heard from many parents of accused male students and understand how unjust, devastating and life-changing the consequences can be,” said Ehrhart.
According to the Dept. of Justice, campus sexual assault is under-reported by as much as 80 percent. If Ehrhart gets his way, the number of unreported rape cases will climb even higher.
The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee heard arguments both for and against the “campus carry” bill. This legislation would allow anyone with a Georgia weapons permit to carry a concealed handgun on public university campuses.
Although several Republicans testified that this bill will improve on-campus safety, University System Chancellor Steve Wrigley argued that campuses are safer with the current laws in place, that do not permit students to carry deadly weapons on campus.
Wrigley testified against the bill, saying, “With respect to campus carry, we feel strongly that current law strikes the right balance to create a safe environment on our campuses,” Wrigley said. “This position is supported by our presidents and campus public safety departments, who are closest to the day-to-day realities and operations of the state’s public colleges and universities. We therefore respectfully oppose any change to current law.”
University police, faculty and staff, university administration and a majority of Georgia voters oppose “campus carry.” The bill is a direct result of some conservatives lawmakers trying to please the most extreme member of their base.
If you oppose “campus carry” legislation and the campus rape cover-up bill, make sure your state representative knows. Find your state lawmakers here and call them today.