MAHSD is joining the Every Voice Coalition in supporting, H.599/S.340 and H.3294/S.817, as part of a campaign to end sexual violence in higher education institutions in Massachusetts.

About the Every Voice Coalition

The Every Voice Coalition is a statewide movement comprised of survivors, students, allies, and alumni seeking to end sexual assault in Massachusetts. MAHSD is joining the Every Voice Coalition in supporting legislation to combat the silent crisis of sexual assault on college campuses.

H.1208/S.736, (An Act requiring sexual misconduct climate surveys at institutions of higher education filed by Representative Lori Ehrlich, Senator Will Brownsberger, Senator Michael Moore, and Senator Joan B. Lovely ) would take a critical first step in the Commonwealth’s response to this problem in two steps. First, it would create a task force comprised of stakeholders from government, higher education and advocacy groups, who would be tasked with employing best practices to craft a climate survey to be used on all campuses. Second, it would mandate that all of our colleges and universities use either the model survey or a survey that has been pre-approved by the Higher Education Commissioner and return their findings to the task force, which would then create a report on sexual assault on Massachusetts’ campuses. With that data, policymakers will identify trends and craft policy responses to solve problems. For example, rural college students may point to a lack of easily accessible rape crisis centers, while other campuses may display a lack of understanding of techniques such as bystander intervention. This bill would clarify these rules and ensure that those who live in the state get the highest credits. The model survey must protect confidentiality for respondents, and universities will not be required to report results broken down by demographics unless there is reasonable sample size.

H.1209/S.764,(An act relative to sexual violence on higher campuses filed by Representatives Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Senator Michael Moore, Senator Joan B. Lovely, and Senator Barry Finegold) This bill strengthens campus policy against sexual assault,domestic violence, and stalking by requiring all institutions of higher education to create and communicate policy on sexual and gender-based violence. Secondly, it helps raise awareness and improves prevention programming by mandating training for students, faculty and staff on all campuses. In addition, the bill requires institutions to establish and build on relationships with local rape crisis centers and domestic violence programs to develop survivor-led prevention programming on campuses. Furthermore, this bill will improve access to resources for survivors by mandating institutions to notify survivors of rights and resources, including how to access support services and health care on and off-campus, how to access protective measures, and what the pathways of reporting are on campus and off. Lastly, the bill mandates that policies and resources with sexual violence data be made publicly available on campus websites. One of the most important aspects of the bill is the outline of how proceedings shall be conducted when an incident of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking is reported. Both the reporting party and responding party are given equal rights, notices, and opportunity for representation throughout the proceeding. These procedures mirror those that were outlined in the federal Dear Colleague Letter of 2014, which was recently rescinded by the current Department of Higher Education administration. This section helps clarify proceedings for higher institutions of learning as well as protecting the rights of both parties.

Take Action

Read this fact sheet for more information about H.599/S.340 and H.3294/S.817.

Read about the Every Voice Coalition here.

For more information on the bills and Every Voice click here.

Check out this guide on how to petition and collect signatures for the Every Voice Coalition.

If you have any questions relative to the Every Voice Coalition please don’t hesitate to email Faridah Azeez at faridah.azeez@yahoo.com