cunningham 01112021CM0215rSPRINGFIELD – Part of a nationwide effort, a new law sponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham will help reduce sexual assault and harassment at Illinois’ colleges and universities by requiring an annual sexual misconduct survey.

An initiative of the Every VOICE Coalition, the results of the survey would then be posted on the university’s website and sent to the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

“Our colleges and universities need to know what’s happening on their campuses in order to seriously address sexual misconduct,” said Cunningham, a Democrat who represents portions of Chicago and the southwest suburbs. “Even though we’ve seen clear progress, we know this issue has not gone away, and we also know that survivors can be reluctant to make reports through official channels.”

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network reports that one in 10 college students experience sexual violence. However, in 2018, Clery Act data showed that more than three quarters of Illinois colleges and universities reported no cases of sexual violence on their campuses.

“An annual anonymous survey will give survivors an opportunity to let the university or college know what happened to them without revealing their names or being forced to repeatedly relive their trauma,” Cunningham said. “If a survivor doesn’t want to make an official report, that’s their choice. This survey gives them another option.”

Under the legislation, IBHE would provide a base survey to public and private institutions throughout the state every two years. Colleges and universities would be able to add additional questions, provided they don’t collect any information that would allow them to identify individual students or create trauma for survivors. Students would be able to notify IBHE of any questions they find traumatizing. Institutions that don’t comply with the act would face stiff fines.

The law, originally Senate Bill 1610, takes effect immediately.