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By Vivian Nunez
September 17, 2015
Caption : On Thursday, September 10, Jillian Murray, a survivor of rape, started a change.org petition, asking the general public to consider supporting the fight against SAFE Campus Act—a proposed piece of legislation that would essentially make it harder for victims of rape to report their assaults.     

On Thursday, September 10, Jillian Murray, a survivor of rape, started a change.org petition, asking the general public to consider supporting the fight against SAFE Campus Act—a proposed piece of legislation that would essentially make it harder for victims of rape to report their assaults.

“Misleadingly called the SAFE Campus Act, this bill would prevent colleges from punishing a student who rapes another student unless the victim reports the attack to the police,” Murray wrote.

Currently one in five female students will be sexually assaulted during their time in college and of these sexual assaults that do occur, less than five percent of them will be reported. The number could potentially decrease even more if such a barrier for reporting was introduced by the SAFE Campus Act.

“If you’re looking for a way to not have students report—not only just to the school, but also to law enforcement—make it mandatory,” said Lisa Maatz, vice president for government relations at the American Association of University Women, according to the Huffington Post.

In the months leading up to Thursday’s senate hearing, the support from national fraternity and sorority groups has been consistent. In addition to these groups, Representatives Matt Salmon (R-AZ), Kay Granger (R-TX), Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) have sponsored and rallied around the bill.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on the other hand said back in April:

“This proposal is completely backwards. We should be making universities more accountable for providing a safe campus, not less. Waiting for long legal process to play itself out for those victims who pursue criminal charges while leaving potential serial rapists on campus in the interim would put public safety at risk.”

According to an in depth piece by the Huffington Post, most higher education groups agree with Gillibrand.

“We don’t support the bill and do not consider it a response to concerns expressed by higher education,” said The Association of American Universities in a statement.

Throughout the day on Thursday, the general public expressed its feelings regarding the SAFE Campus Act by banning together and collecting over 2,000 signatures against the bill in a single day. (As of Monday, September 14th the petition had 6,302 signatures.)

The show of support by way of the petition proves that those who would be directly affected by the passing of the bill are in no way for it.

“I am signing because survivors deserve control over their [own] stories,” reads one comment on the petition.

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