For Immediate Release:
May 28, 2015
Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, (804) 225-4260, Brian.Coy@governor.virginia.gov
Governor McAuliffe Receives Final Recommendations of Governor’s Task Force on Campus Sexual Violence
Governor Terry McAuliffe attended the final meeting of the Governor’s Task Force on Campus Sexual Violence today and received a briefing from Attorney General Mark Herring on the task force’s recommendations.
“Preparing our students to succeed requires educating them in environments that are free from the threat of violence,” said Governor McAuliffe. “When I created this task force I asked its members to tackle this difficult issue head on so that we can make Virginia a national leader in combating sexual violence on our college campuses. I thank Attorney General Herring and the task force membership for their leadership and look forward to turning their recommendations into concrete steps that will make our students and our campuses safer places to learn and thrive.”
Governor McAuliffe created the task force in August of 2014 by signing Executive Order 25. The executive order makes the task force responsible for identifying best practices and making recommendations to reduce sexual violence at colleges and universities that meet the needs of students and each school's responsibilities under the law.
Today, the task force presented its final report to Governor McAuliffe with 21 recommendations that are intended to help ensure that Virginia’s institutions of higher education are safe learning and living environments.
The task force, which was Chaired by Attorney General Mark Herring, was comprised of campus administrators, survivors’ advocates, campus and local law enforcement officials, higher education attorneys, health professionals, members of the McAuliffe cabinet and others experts and stakeholders. The group held more than 20 meetings combined and heard from people from every corner of the Commonwealth as they worked to compile their final recommendations.
“Nine months ago, Governor McAuliffe and I stood on the steps of the Capitol with students, advocates, law enforcement, and Virginia higher education leaders to pledge our commitment to improving the way Virginia prevents and responds to reports of sexual violence on our college campuses," said Attorney General Herring. "It has been an honor to chair this outstanding and diverse commission, which has tackled the questions of how to best prevent campus sexual violence, ensure no survivor is met with suspicion or indifference, and ensure this critical issue is not pushed back into the shadows. Because of the Task Force’s unprecedented efforts, Virginia is emerging as a national leader with these recommendations. Every student in Virginia must know that we are committed to ensuring our campuses are safe places to live, learn and work, and that those who report instances of sexual violence or misconduct will be treated with the respect, compassion, and support they deserve."
At today’s meeting Governor McAuliffe also performed a ceremonial signing of several bills that will help make Virginia a national leader in combating campus sexual violence.
“This year we took important steps forward in our continued effort to rid our college campuses of sexual violence,” said Governor McAuliffe. “These bills strengthen the resources our schools provide to survivors and offer a commonsense approach to reporting crimes without compromising a survivor’s right to privacy. There is no question that we still have much work to do, but I want to thank the members of the General Assembly and this task force who were instrumental in getting these bills passed.”
The campus sexual violence legislation signed by Governor McAuliffe includes:
- Sexual assault reporting (HB 1785 – Massie) – Requires mutual aid agreements between campus police and law enforcement agencies and helps provide an avenue for collecting and preserving evidence that can be used in prompt investigations
- Sexual assault reporting and response (SB 712 – Black; HB 1930- Bell) – Requires that responsible employees of an institution of higher education who obtain information about an act of sexual violence report such information to the title IX coordinator and from there a special team is assembled to investigate the matter.