AUGUSTA – On Monday, the Maine Legislature enacted legislation from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, intended to combat sexual violence on college campuses and bolster resources for survivors. LD 1727, “An Act Concerning Interpersonal Violence on College Campuses” is now on the governor’s desk, awaiting her signature.
The legislation, spearheaded by Maine college students, would improve prevention efforts, invest in long-term resources to support survivors and gather comprehensive data on the sexual violence that occurs on campus.
“Sexual violence on college campuses has reached a crisis point in this state and in this country. It may be uncomfortable for some folks to talk about but ignoring or minimizing the issue would be a gross disservice to our students and only add to the pain of survivors. It’s why I’m so proud to have played a small part in helping pass this student-led legislation to better support survivors and create a safer environment on Maine’s college campuses,” said President Jackson. “I’m so grateful to the students who brought the bill forward, the brave survivors who shared their stories, and my colleagues in the Legislature who helped send this bill to the governor’s desk.”
LD 1727 would require institutions to offer evidence-based prevention and trauma-response training for all college students and employees. The training would be available to everyone but required for incoming students and employees. It also directs Maine colleges and universities to designate confidential resource advisors in an effort to provide ongoing support for survivors of sexual violence. This individual can be an existing employee or a partner from a sexual assault or domestic violence support center.
“I am so grateful to have been a part of this movement and behind this bill for the past two years. We have received so much support from students, survivors, community partners, and legislators and I am looking forward to the next steps,” said India McNeill, a student at Bates College and co-State Director for Every Voice Maine. “This bill will be a step towards making our campuses safer and shows survivors that their voices are being heard and protected.”
The measure would also establish the Higher Education Interpersonal Violence Advisory Commission for the purpose of putting together a biennial climate survey to increase transparency, measure progress, and improve policy decisions in Maine’s institutions of higher learning. The commission’s membership would include a diverse group of stakeholders including representatives from the Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, representatives of post-secondary institutions, representatives of key advocacy organizations, students and research experts.
“I am so proud of all of the students and survivors behind this bill and so grateful to all of the legislators and community members who have supported us,” said Lotte Parsons, a student at Bowdoin College and co-State Director for Every Voice Maine. “This bill will ensure that student survivors receive critical resources and the support that they deserve. Its passage marks an amazing step toward creating safer, more compassionate campus communities.”