RIVERSIDE (CNS) - A Riverside County lawmaker's bill requiring California colleges and universities to annually review policies on campus sexual assaults and seek recommendations from students and counselors before making changes was signed into law today by the governor.
Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, D-Corona, said AB 1000 will ensure that campuses keep written procedures and protocols regarding what to do when an assault occurs up-to-date, permitting broad input on what revisions might be necessary.
``Allowing sexual assault counselors, students, faculty and staff to contribute to the policy review process can further improve sexual assault policies in ongoing prevention and response efforts,'' Cervantes said. ``It is critical that our higher education institutions include much needed perspectives and fundamentally shift their approach to sexual assault procedures and protocols.''
The bill received near unanimous support in both the Assembly and Senate.
The law recognizes that community colleges and the California State University and University of California systems maintain policies that deal directly with sexual assaults, but the legislation stipulates that officials scrutinize those procedures each academic year so that ``vital voices'' are heard, encouraging changes ``through a trauma-informed lens.''
Cervantes cited figures indicating that 11.2 % of college students in the U.S. are raped or sexually assaulted in another way each year.
The California Education Code requires that services be available to students who are victims of assault and that certain steps be followed, including confidentiality protection, in the event an assault is reported.