Belmont students and organizations have recently expressed their opposition to the Safe Campus Act of 2015.
The Safe Campus Act has been proposed to protect those who are accused of sexual assault. In doing so, it requires the sexual assault victims to take cases directly to the local authorities rather than to administration at his or her prospective university.
Under this act, if a sexual assault case were to be brought to Belmont University’s attention, the administration would not be able to take further action until the alleged victim reported it to the Metro Nashville Police Department.
National fraternity and sorority conferences at first heavily supported this bill, but within the past week, the National Panhellenic Conference and the North-American Interfraternity Conference who originally backed the Safe Campus legislation retracted their support after receiving backlash from so many of their organizations.
“It is not news that the majority of sexual assaults go unreported, though it is still devastating,” said Lauren Irwin, a member of Alpha Gamma Delta at Belmont. “By taking away a woman’s ability to report her sexual assault to on-campus security or counseling, the number unreported sexual assaults will undoubtedly skyrocket, and even more perpetrators will continue to roam campuses all over the country, likely assaulting more women.”
The Alpha Gamma Delta sorority and Phi Mu national women’s fraternity have both released statements opposing the act. Also, after originally lobbying for the act, Alpha Tau Omega’s national office withdrew its support. These organizations all have active chapters on Belmont’s campus.
In a recent press release from the Phi Mu national office, the sorority wrote, “Phi Mu Fraternity does not endorse the Safe Campus Act or the Fair Campus Act legislation. While we appreciate the intent of the proposed legislation, we do not support the bills. “
Many non-Greek national organizations are also publicly opposing the act, including some factions that have a presence on Belmont’s campus. These groups include Title IX, The American Association of University Women and Not On My Campus.
Belmont University Title IX coordinator Molly Zlock and Chief of Campus Security Pat Cunningham have joined together on the issue and have made a statement on behalf of the university.
“In line with many national higher education institutions and organizations, Belmont University shares concerns about the practical effect the proposed Safe Campus Act will have on the university’s ability to sanction perpetrators in sexual misconduct cases,” Zlock said.
While the act has been put in place to protect those who are accused of sexual assault, the bill does not include any other restrictions on non-sexual assault offenses.
Belmont has made it clear that it is dedicated to keeping students protected on campus.
“The university is committed to a prompt, thorough and effective response to all reports of sexual misconduct that are made to the university,” said Zlock. “The university will continue this response to the best of its ability in full compliance with all applicable federal law.”
The Safe Campus Act is waiting to receive ratification from Senate groups and continues to face disapproval from multiple campus organizations.
This article was written by Ally Pace.