President Clinton Expected to Sign Important Legislation
Police Records Can Alert Students to which Schools Are Safe
Compiled by Badpuppy's GayToday
From Human Rights Campaign Reports
Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Senate voted 96-0 to pass the Higher Education Reauthorization Act. A part of this bill, which was taken from the Campus Right to Know Act, will require campus police to report incidents of hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation, disability, religion, gender and ethnicity.
The bill is an important step in providing students access to information allowing them to choose a school in which they will be safe, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
"This legislation sends the clear message that hate crimes are serious offenses and should not be swept under the carpet. This open policy allows gay and lesbian students to know if they may be at higher risk by attending certain schools. This legislation also allows schools with a high incidence of hate crimes to identify their problems and fix them," said HRC political director Winnie Stachelberg.
The House passed the bill the day before by a voice vote and now it will go to President Clinton who is expected to sign it into law. Before this legislation, existing federal reporting requirements only mandated colleges and universities to report hate crimes that result in murder, rape, or aggravated assault.
This was inadequate because the majority of hate crimes on campuses are not this extreme. Most incidents come in the form of assaults, or lesser crimes. Unfortunately, vandalism and intimidation as incidents that campus police must report to the Department of Education were not included in this bill.
In 1990, Congress enacted the Hate Crimes Statistics Act (HCSA) in an effort to measure the extent of the hate crime problem in America. In 1992, Congress enacted the Campus Security Act to require colleges and universities to annually report crime statistics in an effort to measure campus crime and increase security awareness.
"The first step to solving a problem is acknowledging it exists. This bill will provide the necessary tools for college administrators to recognize that their institutions may be incubators for hateful activity," said HRC senior policy advocate Kris Pratt.