The Ct Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Every Voice Coalition CT and legislators met Monday to voice their support for a proposed bill that would extended protections for survivors of sexual violence on college and university campuses and express a need for the bill to be heard during Connecticut’s upcoming special session of the general assembly.
Senate Bill 19 includes a mechanism for campus climate surveys to be conducted on every college and university campus in the state every four years, and an amnesty provision for students who were using drugs and/or alcohol when they experience or report sexual violence.
The Alliance emphasized a need for amnesty in order for students to feel safe reporting sexual violence.
“Amnesty will open up the options survivors have for reporting to their institutions without fear, Bridget Koestner, Campus Services Coordinator at the Alliance to End Sexual Violence. “It will create environments where students can report without feeling blamed for what has happened, because sexual violence is never a survivor’s fault.”
The bill was raised last February and was voted out of committee with bipartisan support, but was not voted on before legislators’ were forced to focus their attention the escalating Covid-19 pandemic in March. While it is unknown whether the bill will be included in the special session, Sen. Will Haskell expressed that the bill should be prioritized for consideration.
“For those who haven’t been following this too closely we don’t know yet if [Senate Bill 19] will be included in the special assessment agenda but I and and and so many others most importantly so many students across the state believe that it really ought to be considered because we do have a pandemic of sexual violence on college campuses,” Sen. Will Haskell said.
Rep. Noreen Kokoruda echoed her support, calling the creation of the bill a “bipartisan effort” against sexual violence.
“The survey is the part that really gives students a voice,” Kokoruda said, referring to the climate survey’s that would be conducted every four years on campuses if the bill passes. “That will tell schools what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong and it’s the students that can really tell them what they’re experiencing,” Kokoruda said.
Ali Hagani, who serves as one of the co-directors of Every Voice Coalition Ct – a localized chapter of the national coalition, said the passing of the bill was especially now important due to the complications brought on by Covid-19, which has ushered in an increase in domestic and sexual violence, as well as the “Red Zone” – a time period spanning from October to September when more than 50% of all college sexual assaults are statistically found to occur.
“Every single day that this bill sits, another student’s life will be indescribably altered, just as mine was two years ago,” said student Zoe Bertone. “…Without this survivors will not have the privacy they so desperately deserve.”
The Alliance’s full statement is available here