Commentary: Walker’s budget calls for schools to stop reporting sexual assaults

By Shane Nicholson
Managing Editor

Buried in Scott Walker’s proposed budget for the state of Wisconsin, which calls for over $300 million in cuts to higher education, is a small note of massive consequence.

The Republican governor would like schools to cease the reporting sexual assaults on college campuses.

Yes, you read that right.

Here’s the passage in its entirety:

25. DELETE LANGUAGE RELATED TO SEXUAL ASSAULT INFORMATION AND REPORTING

Delete the requirement that the Board direct each institution and college campus to incorporate oral and written or electronic information on sexual assault in its orientation program for newly entering students and to supply all students enrolled in the institution or college campus with the same information in either printed or electronic form.

Delete the requirement that the Board of Regents submit an annual report to the Legislature regarding the methods used to comply with the above requirement.

Delete the requirement that any person employed at an institution who witnesses a sexual assault on campus or receives a report from a student enrolled in the institution that the student has been sexually assaulted report the assault to the dean of students. Delete the requirement that each institution report annually to the Department of Justice (DOJ) statistics on sexual assaults and on sexual assaults committed by acquaintances of the victims that occurred on the campus of that institution in the previous years, and that DOJ include those statistics in appropriate crime reports.

And it’s not as if Walker goes on to propose a new system for the reporting of sexual assaults at Wisconsin colleges, he just doesn’t want to know about them period.

He doesn’t want the schools to track them, doesn’t want the DOJ to know about them, he just wants to pretend like they don’t exist and never took place. Just sweep it under the rug and tell the victim to move along.

Now, one could say that the various local police services may be better suited to handling sexual assaults, and in all honesty I’d agree. Too often sexual assaults on college campuses get lost in the myriad bureaucracy present at large universities.

That said, many such police investigations begin with the initial report to a school office or body, and the focus should be on improving the lines of communication following an initial report to a school body, not removing the ability to report a sexual assault completely.

The first paragraph alone makes it quite clear that Walker doesn’t even want incoming students to be educated on what to do in the case of a sexual assault. He’d just prefer that such events went unreported and presumably unnoticed altogether.

Governor Walker should be ashamed at the very idea of this proposal, but then, as we’ve seen, the man finds shame in very little.

This however steps over every moral and social boundary that one could imagine. This is a reprehensible and dangerous precedent to set, and one that under no circumstances should the people of Wisconsin accept.

shane.nicholson@rockrivertimes.com | @ofvoid

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