New guidelines in place to end sexual assault on college campuses

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – California is entering a new era of accountability for campus sexual assault.

Attorney General Kamala Harris has laid out new guidelines to improve how college campuses handle such cases.

It’s no secret, San Diego State has seen its fair share.

“Especially as a young woman, I don’t feel safe walking around campus even with a couple of girls,” said Freshman Courtney Hyde.

Hyde said she wants to see more done at San Diego State to prevent sexual assaults.

There have been at least 14 sexual assaults reported by students since last fall.

Several students have even held protests against the University for what they say was a lack of response.

“I think because the issue’s being suppressed, I think victims are not going to feel encouraged to share their stories to reach out for help,” Hyde said.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Wednesday new guidelines that she wants all colleges to adopt to help campuses and law enforcement agencies comply with their obligations.

They’re not required, but highly recommended.

The how-to-guide clarifies responsibilities as who would collect evidence and interview witnesses.

It helps campuses, law enforcement and community-based organizations work together to connect victims to services and commits the schools and officers to regular training.

“We get emails when a sexual assault happens and I think that’s great. It opens our eye a little,” said Hannah King, a student at SDSU.

SDSU hired its first full-time victims advocate last month. The university also hired its first full-time detective dedicated to look into sexual assault cases as well as work on prevention.

For the first time under state law on July 1, California campuses must have policies in place to ensure that reports of violent crime made to campus authorities are immediately disclosed to law enforcement.

“A lot of times people want to report something but don’t because they’re scared. They don’t know how to so I think it’s important to give them an opportunity to speak up,” said Freshman Megan Friner.

The University is not saying just yet if they will adopt the new guidelines, but a statement from the CSU says they will.

“CSU plans to use the model as a resource in evaluating whether to revise local coordination and collaboration agreements with other law enforcement agencies.”

And on behalf of UCSD, UC President Napolitano, who worked with the Attorney General on the guidelines said he hopes the guidelines will make a difference.

“This collaboration will help provide practical tools for law enforcement and universities to work together to prevent sexual assault and it demonstrates how we are all dedicated to eliminating all forms of sexual violence,” President Napolitano said.

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