Improving campus sexual assault response

A woman walks toward Powell Library at UCLA on August 7, 2019. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters

By Mikhail Zinshteyn

WHAT THE BILL WOULD DO

SB 493 by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson would require colleges that receive state money in California — the UC, CSU and CCC systems and also private colleges whose students get state aid — to clarify how they address campus sexual assault allegations, in addition to training staff and making public the campus personnel responsible for investigating complaints. Jackson says it would create a common baseline for dealing with sexual assault prevention and investigations. The bill would take effect in 2022.

WHO SUPPORTS IT? 

The University of California, California State University,  Equal Rights Advocates (who co-sponsored the bill) and dozens of legal and advocacy groups all support the legislation. SB 493 underwent extensive changes between 2019 and 2020, which included removing a provision that would expose colleges to fines of up to $50,000 per violation.

WHO’S OPPOSED?

For the latest version of the bill, no one, but in 2019 the group Families Advocating for Campus Equality opposed the bill. FACE advocates for students who were accused of sexual assault.

WHY IT MATTERS 

Sexual assault is widespread on campuses, with one estimate saying that 20% of women experience it while in college. This bill would create a common set of accountability standards for public colleges and universities, and provisions for the welfare of sexual assault victims. 

GOVERNOR’S CALL:

Newsom signed the bill into law Sept. 29.