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Texas bill could turn SHSUs Crime Victims Institute into task force

By Molly Waddell
On February 21, 2013

A bill is going through the Texas Legislature that, if passed, would turn the Sam Houston State University Crime Victims Institute into a task force that would address sexual assaults occurring on campus.

Director of the Crime Victims Institute, Leana Bouffard said that this bill works with the legislative mission of the Institute.

This is very much in line with the legislative mission of the Institute, which is to conduct research on issues of victimization and to provide recommendations to the state legislature for policy efforts that would address victimization, Bouffard said.

Bouffard said the goal of the task force would be to develop a better understanding of sexual assault on campus and among college students. In understanding sexual assault on campus, the CVI can make policy changes or program efforts directed at reducing sexual assault.

Bouffard said the task force should raise awareness of campus sexual assault, the services available and give victims a voice.

The task force efforts will hopefully give survivors a voice in understanding this issue as well as in developing more effective responses to sexual assault, Bouffard said. These efforts will also send a broader message that sexual assault anywhere cannot be tolerated and that we all have a responsibility to support survivors and to prevent this type of victimization.

Bouffard said the bill should have positive results in helping sexual assault victims and preventing sexual assault.

We are optimistic as this bill moves forward and we are able to begin a statewide dialogue with colleges and universities and victim service providers that the efforts of the task force will improve response to sexual assault and strengthen prevention programming, Bouffard said.

The bill calls for members from each department on campus as well as therapists and counselors who have dealt with this situation before.

The act will take effect immediately if two thirds of all members elected to each house vote for it. If it does not receive two thirds of the vote, but still wins a majority vote it will take effect Sept. 1, 2013.

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