A drive to mandate training to prevent sexual harassment at institutions of higher learning throughout the state could not have come at a more important time.
Study after study suggest that the issue of sexual harassment and assault on college campuses remains an insidious and under-reported problem, especially among young women. Couple this with a U.S. Department of Education effort to roll back protections for the victims of such attacks, and the urgency of this bill becomes even more apparent.
If passed, the act would require that all post-secondary schools in the Massachusetts annually administer sexual harassment training for faculty, staff, and students.
That training would come in the form of programming to help make people more aware of the problem as well as how to create an environment of safety and respect.
It also requires the development of prevention strategies, in the form of promoting “positive healthy behavior,” and calls for training so that those who witness such behavior will take steps, whether the person be a bystander or an employee of the institution.
Schools would also be required to report the results of their training to the state.
One of the focal points of the effort is to reduce the tidal wave of harassment and assault that engulfs college students each year.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, more than one out of every four college women have experienced unwanted sexual contact during their time in school, and almost two out of every three female students have been the victim of sexual harassment.
In light of such alarming statistics, one might think that there would be little need to force schools into taking such simple measures as education campaigns. Unfortunately, such is not the case.