May 5, 2014

Assembly Passes Legislation Strengthening the Campus Safety Act of 1999

Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assemblyman Edward Braunstein announced today the passage of legislation that would strengthen the Campus Safety Act of 1999 by requiring all colleges and universities to notify the appropriate law enforcement agency of any report of a violent felony or instance in which a student residing in on-campus housing is missing, within 24 hours of such occurrence (A.2089, Braunstein).

"When a student falls victim to a violent crime or has been reported missing, every second counts," Speaker Silver said. "Any delay means valuable time has been lost and lives are in even greater danger. This legislation answers demands for a stronger response to the unsettling number of assaults on college campuses by ensuring such terrible and unfortunate occurrences are swiftly reported to local law enforcement officials. We must do everything in our power to keep students and campuses safe."

The Campus Safety Act of 1999 was passed following the disappearance of undergraduate student Suzanne Lyall from the University at Albany on March 2, 1998. While the Act required colleges and universities to adopt and implement plans for the notification to local law enforcement of any violent felony offense or missing person occurring at or on the grounds of each institution, it did not require that colleges and universities report violent felonies and missing persons to local law enforcement.

Taking into consideration the applicable components of the federal Campus Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights, which gives the victim of a sexual offense the right to decide whether or not to report such an offense to local law enforcement, today's legislation would update the Act by requiring all colleges and universities to report all violent felonies and missing persons to local law enforcement no more than 24 hours after the incident is reported to the college or university itself.

"The persistent number of violent crimes reported on college campuses is disturbing and simply inexcusable," Braunstein said. "More can and should be done to protect our students and ensure that college campuses are kept as safe as possible, which is why I introduced this important measure. It is the first of many steps we can take to cut down on campus assaults and give parents peace of mind while their children are away at college."

Violent assaults on college campuses remain a prevalent and disturbing concern for students and parents throughout the country. A White House task force recently found that nearly 20 percent of female college students have been assaulted, but that only 12 percent of cases are reported.