PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are more than 418,000 victims of sexual violence under the age of 18 in Pennsylvania.
Experts say this year is more concerning. This is one of the many reasons why Governor Tom Wolf is pushing to strengthen protections for students and combat sexual assaults on college and university campuses.READ MORE: Gov. Tom Wolf Vetoes Permitless Gun Bill
Governor Wolf announced Monday that the new legislation would build on his “It’s On Us PA” initiative with the goal of stopping sexual assault from happening and get victims the help they deserve, all in a year where experts fear sexual assaults could go up due to the pandemic.
“It’s estimated one in five college women are assaulted,” Governor Wolf said.
Governor Wolf read off stats during a news conference Monday, when he announced new legislation he hopes will soon become law. If passed, the legislation would enact a “Yes Means Yes” law, which would require all colleges and universities to have policies outlining clear standards of what is and what isn’t considered consent.
It would strengthen protections for victims of on-campus crime. The legislation would also teach students in middle and high schools prevention strategies and how to recognize certain behaviors before they go off to college.READ MORE: Charges Against Cletus Lee, North Braddock Mayor-Elect, Withdrawn
Lastly, the legislation would create a task force that would study student experiences and improve response efforts when it comes to sexual assault. While some students KDKA’s Amy Wadas spoke to at Duquesne University feel safe on campus, they also feel Wolf’s proposal is a great idea.
“There’s a lot of people who feel nervous walking around, and I think anything that can be done to make them feel a little better is a good idea,” Duquesne freshman Colin Lamb said.
“I would say Duquesne is small but feel I pretty protected. I know it’s in the middle of downtown, but I feel pretty safe,” said Duquesne Freshman Jazlyn Yanssens.
It’s On Us Executive Director Tracey Vitchers said this is expected to be more concerning for students when it comes to on-campus sex assault due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Institutions of higher education reopening after a year of remote learning have welcomed a new class of freshmen to campus. They’ve also been joined by students who are academically sophomores but more like socially freshmen because they zoomed their first year of study remotely,” said Vitchers.MORE NEWS: Chicago-Area Family Still In Shock After They Hired Home Improvement Contractor Via HomeAdvisor, Only For The Contractor To Smash Up Their Property
Governor Wolf’s office expects Republicans in the House and Senate to pass the legislation and get it to the governor’s desk.