The Texas Senate tentatively approved a bill Tuesday that would add more transparency and accountability to sexual assault reporting systems in colleges and universities throughout the state.
The bill authored by State Sen. Joan Huffman, a Houston Republican, specifically aims to facilitate safer reporting on campuses and make the reporting process more transparent.
It requires employees at both public and private universities to document any sexual assault that has occurred on campus. Under the bill, any employee failing to report these incidents would be terminated and prosecuted for a Class B misdemeanor.
“One in five — I’ll repeat that — one in five female college students experience some kind of sexual assault during their time at college. It is imperative that victims and witnesses have a safe and reliable reporting structure,” Huffman said.
Huffman said the legislation also levies hefty fines against institutions caught systemically covering up sexual assaults on their property by not reporting them to their on-campus Title IX coordinating board.
“If a higher institution is not in compliance, the coordinating board may assess a penalty, not to exceed $2 million,” Huffman said.
The bill, which passed unanimously on a second reading, will receive a third reading and then a final vote before moving to the Texas House for consideration.