Senators Announce Re-introduction of Bipartisan Campus Accountability and Safety Act

Scott Berkowitz, RAINN founder, gives a press conference at capitol hill with senators to encourage quick passage of the CASA bill
(February 26, 2015) – Ten Senate leaders, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), today introduced the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA), a bill to reform the way colleges deal with sexual violence. At a Capitol Hill press conference to announce the legislation, Scott Berkowitz, RAINN’s president and founder, joined the senators in praising the bill and urging quick passage.

“We’re grateful that so many Senate leaders are working hard, in a bipartisan way, to solve the problem of rape on campus,” Berkowitz said at the Senate press conference. “By passing this bill to help fix the way colleges deal with sexual assault, and increasing the number of prosecutions so we take more rapists off the streets, we can make students safer. We owe it to them to pass this bill as soon as possible.

The bill requires colleges to implement a bi-annual, online, anonymous “campus climate” survey of students to measure their progress in combating rape on campus. It also creates a system of advisors: college employees to whom victims can turn and receive help following an attack.

The legislation also bans the practice of letting athletic departments investigate allegations against their own players, requiring that all students be dealt with equally.

Sponsors of CASA include Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), (D-NY), Dean Heller (R-NV), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Gary Peters (D-MI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Mark Warner (D-VA). Survivors Annie Clark and Andrea Pino of End Rape on Campus and “The Hunting Ground” film also joined the press conference, speaking from personal experience about how colleges mishandle sexual assault cases.

"We will not allow these crimes to be swept under the rug any longer,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand during the press conference. “Our students deserve better. They deserve safety and accountability. Simply put, they deserve action."

Sen. Claire McCaskill explained why this version of the bill is stronger than ever before: “This strengthened, bipartisan bill is a reflection of the valuable input we heard from survivors, advocates, and universities, whose feedback has turned this legislation into smarter policy.

Sen. Grassley explained why CASA will help treat sexual assault for the crime that it is: “Sexual assault is not some mere code of conduct violation. It is a major criminal offense. Like with any crime, weak enforcement makes the problem worse. This bill will start to turn that around.”

Clark also expressed the urgency for this bill to pass: "We need this bill because students deserve better than the status quo. I think it will pass because campus violence does not have a political party."

Berkowitz added: "We look forward to creating a system where survivors think they have a chance at justice and are willing to come forward and report,” said Berkowitz.

Learn more about CASA at Senator Gillibrand's website.

Take the next step: Act with RAINN by asking your Senator to co-sponsor the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, and get updates from RAINN here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with on-campus sexual violence, you are not alone. Help is available 24/7 at online.rainn.org or by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE (4673).

Subscribe to Policy News



93¢ of every $1 goes to helping survivors and preventing sexual violence.

Donate Now