Testimony presented by CCASA Director of Policy, Raana Simmons, April 18, 2019:
Good afternoon Madam Chair and members of the committee: my name is Raana Simmons, I am the Director of Policy for the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA), and I am here today representing the Coalition and our over 100 agency and individual members across Colorado who work to support survivors and prevent sexual violence in our communities – including campus-based victim advocates, Title IX school administrators, campus prevention educators, and survivors of campus-based sexual misconduct.
I’m asking for your ‘yes’ vote on SB19-007, a Colorado solution developed by Colorado Institutions of Higher Education and Colorado victim advocacy groups in response to the needs of survivors to create a fundamentally fair process that allows all students, particularly those students who experience sexual violence while attending college, the chance to access a safe and meaningful education.
Sexual misconduct poses a serious threat to the safety of students and interferes with their ability to learn. Study after study has confirmed that one in five women and one in sixteen men are sexually assaulted during their time in college. This is an unacceptable reality for students, for their families, and for our state.
It was with these statistics and stories in mind that CCASA, Colorado Institutions of Higher Education, survivors, and other campus-based professionals have engaged in a multi-year stakeholder process, carefully crafting a policy solution that guarantee’s uniformity in process, and allows flexibility for institutions to meet the unique needs of their individual campus communities. Just as last years’ efforts were in response to survivors needs, SB19-007 is in response to the over 100,000 comments left through the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Process – the vast majority of which were in opposition to the proposed Title IX changes. We are grateful for the expertise that informed our extensive and engaged stakeholder process.
Of particular importance to CCASA’s membership, SB19-007 codifies confidentiality for campus-based advocates, requires institutions to prominently display the information to a 24-hour rape crisis hotline, and provides best practices training guidelines to effectively transform a campus culture through bystander intervention and trauma-informed trainings.
Sexual violence is an entirely preventable public health and public safety concern, and should never be the reason for a student survivor’s education to end.
It is for these reasons CCASA’s collective membership is urging a “yes” vote from the committee on SB19-007, including our support for the formation of an advisory committee as may be reflected in an amendment, provided that the committee is fairly balanced to include victims and victim advocates are a part of the Board.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify in support of this bill, I am available to answer any questions the committee may have.