NJ considers mandating new response to campus sex assaults

New Jersey lawmakers are discussing legislation to deal with campus sexual assaults.

One of the bills sponsored by Sen. Peter Barnes would require New Jersey colleges and high schools to immediately alert law enforcement authorities about student allegations of sexual assault.

“And they come in and do their job. No backroom deals. No dean of students hearings. No sweeping it under the rug,” said Barnes, D-Middlesex.

Some schools are more concerned about protecting their reputations than they are about students’ emotional health, he said Thursday.

But student sex-assault victims concerned about the stigma might not get the help they need if mandatory reporting becomes law, said Donna Barry, co-administrator of the sexual assault response team at Montclair State University.

“By going underground, they will be denied the services that are necessary for them to move forward in the healing process of what has happened and to deal with the trauma of the event,” she said.

Another bill under consideration would require colleges to inform incoming students of the number of sexual assaults on campus.

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