New Partnership Formed to Address Important Campus Safety Issues

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Written by: Lauren Sisneros
Feb. 24, 2016

Education Commission of the States and NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education recently partnered to address legislative developments and offer considerations for leaders in higher education and policy on two top-level issues: campus sexual violence and guns on campus.  This strategic partnership aims to connect policy and practice to engage stakeholders from the national, state and campus levels to have collaborative conversations and ensure that inclusive and safe environments exist for students to learn.

To launch the partnership, Education Commission of the States and NASPA hosted a live webcast last week that highlighted state legislative developments on campus sexual violence and presented findings of their recent issue brief.  A lively panel discussion shed light on this complex issue.  Some highlights included:

  • Felicia McGinty, Rutgers University, provided highlights from a campus climate survey pilot, discussed the importance of relevant data and the need for campuses to have open and transparent conversations.
  • Will Del Pilar, Pennsylvania Department of Education, explained Pennsylvania’s commitment to the It's On Us campaign, talked about the challenges of lining up policy and campus timelines, and emphasized importance of education and collaboration amongst K-12 and higher education systems that focuses on sexual violence prevention.
  • Kevin Kruger, NASPA, discussed the idea of campus climate surveys being elevated to the national level and the need for comprehensive mandates that can be enforced across different campuses.

The discussion proved to support constructive dialogue toward effective action on campus safety. A recording of the full webcast can be found here and the online conversation can be viewed with the hashtag #NASPAECS2016.

As part of the partnership, two issue briefs have been released on these campus safety issues. The first, State Legislative Developments on Campus Sexual Violence:  Issues in the Context of Safety, addresses legislative developments and offers considerations for policymakers and leaders in higher education concerning campus sexual violence.  By offering in-depth analyses of state legislative activity during the 2013-2015 legislative sessions and framing key issues and considerations for leaders in higher education and policy across the states, NASPA and Education Commission of the States hope to inform effective solutions to these issues.

The second issue brief, Guns on Campus: The Architecture and Momentum of State Policy Action offers a detailed summary of state legislative action and higher education system policy decisions that permit or are seeking to permit guns on campus, and actions that have prohibited or are seeking to prohibit guns on campus.  The report provides a detailed overview of the issue and includes several appendices concerning guns on campus policies that include state legislation, system policies, court cases and legislation introduced in 2015.

As policy debates continue, proposals are being introduced across the states in the 2016 legislative session on these two important campus safety issues. For example, 14 states have considered bills related to campus sexual violence and 18 states have considered bills related to guns on campus as of Jan. 31, 2016.

Education Commission of the States and NASPA will continue their partnership to examine state legislative developments on these safety concerns and frame issues and considerations for leaders in higher education and state policy.  It is imperative that state decision makers join leaders in the higher education community to engage in discussions about effective and credible approaches to address these issues so that the safety and well-being of our campus communities continues to be a top priority.

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