Rep. Mia Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln) has introduced a resolution that would create a commission to study sexual assault on college campuses.
The resolution calls for an 11-member panel that will be tasked with undertaking a comprehensive study of options to eliminate the occurrence of sexual assaults on college campuses in Rhode Island.
“When I first submitted legislation at the beginning of this session, I was hoping to open a discussion about the problem of sexual assault on campuses,” said Representative Ackerman. “Well, I wasn’t disappointed. I heard from every college in the state. I heard the concerns of students, educators and law enforcement officers. Now I believe the best way to address this problem is through this commission. I want to keep the discussion going, because there are too many moving parts to be addressed right now in one piece of legislation.”
According to a report from the National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, it is estimated that the percentage of completed or attempted rape victimization among women in higher educational institutions may be between 20 and 25 percent over the course of a college career. Of these, it is estimated that only 5 percent of completed or attempted rapes are reported to law enforcement.
“This problem needs to be handled delicately, as we all need to be sensitive to the worries and concerns of the victims who have already endured a severe emotional and physical trauma and have no desire to relive it,” said Representative Ackerman. “We need to do something not only to keep campuses safe and provide a strong response to cases of sexual assault, but to make certain we do it in a way that victims will know they will be treated with the utmost sensitivity. I believe this commission is a good first step toward getting that accomplished.”
The commission would be made up of three members of the House, the superintendent of the State Police or a designee, the attorney general or a designee, a municipal police officer, a representative of public higher education, a representative of private higher education, a sexual assault treatment provider, a representative of a sexual assault advocacy group and a survivor of sexual assault.