The Buzz

March 20, 2014

McCaskill now considering crackdown on campus sexual assaults

Fresh off her victory on military sexual assaults, the senator is now switching focus

The Buzz

The facts, faces and hum of local politics with Steve Kraske and Dave Helling

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who just scored a big legislative win in the Senate over prosecuting military sexual assaults, now says she’s switching her attention to sexual assaults on college campuses.

“My sense, based on the conversations I’ve had, is that this is a really big problem on college campuses that has not been fully given the attention it deserves,” she told The Buzz on Thursday after meeting with The Star’s editorial board.

The two-term Democrat said her staff is now conducting an inventory to gauge what kind of reporting is taking place on college campuses across the country and what types of services are available to women.

“It’s never a good idea to minimize this problem because you’re worried how it might look,” she said. “We need to focus on making sure that victims feel safe, protected and have the courage to come forward.”

Her hope is that the problem can be resolved without federal legislation. After the inventory, McCaskill plans to convene a meeting of college presidents and stakeholders, such as the Association of University Women.

One big stick Congress has involves tying federal funding to some type of reporting standard, the senator said.

“We have massive under-reporting on college campuses,” McCaskill said. One reason for that: Colleges don’t “want bad statistics.”

College campuses can be a tough environment for women.

“Many times a sexual assault occurs in an environment where they do way too much self-blaming, and they shouldn’t,” McCaskill said of women students. “Just because you had too much to drink, no one deserves to get criminally assaulted.”

 

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