Bill to support survivors of sexual assault on college campuses introduced

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WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- A new bill before the U.S. Senate would help provide support for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses.

Senator Tim Kaine introduced the Survivor Outreach and Support on Campus Act, or SOS Campus Act.

According to a release, the bill would require colleges and universities to have an independent advocate available to support sexual assault survivors on every campus.

"It's our responsibility as public servants to advocate for reforms to prevent sexual assault and protections for survivors," said Kaine. "This bill takes a much-needed step to ensure colleges and universities across the country are providing survivors of sexual assault with the support they need."

Any institution of higher education that receives federal funding would need to designate the independent advocate who would be responsible for ensuring survivors have access to emergency and follow-up medical care; guidance on reporting assaults to law enforcement; medical forensic or evidentiary exams; crisis intervention, ongoing counseling and assistance throughout the process; and information on their legal rights.

The release says local rape crisis centers and other community-based organizations are currently providing many of these kinds of services in communities and on campuses.

The bill would recognize the importance of partnerships with such organizations by requiring universities either consult with or partner with them to ensure survivors get the services they need.

The advocate will also need to conduct public information campaigns on campus.

A companion bill has also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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