U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) recently introduced the Accountability of Leaders in Education to Report Title IX Investigations (ALERT) Act, legislation to hold universities that receive federal funding accountable for sexual abuse cases that threaten the safety of their students. This bill, introduced with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Gary Peters (D-MI), requires university leaders to certify they have reviewed any reports of sexual abuses perpetrated by university employees.
“University officials must be responsible stewards of students’ trust, especially when they come forward with unthinkable allegations of abuse,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This legislation would ensure reports of sexual misconduct against campus employees have been thoroughly reviewed by university leadership.”
Under Title IX, colleges and universities that receive federal funds are required to establish clear procedures for promptly responding to instances of sexual violence on campuses. They must also have a Title IX coordinator in place to oversee investigations, coordinate disciplinary actions, and ensure compliance with federal guidance. However, in both the Nassar and Sandusky cases, university leaders failed to take action on or even claimed they were unaware of reports of sexual abuse by university employees.
The ALERT Act would require federally-funded colleges and universities to submit an annual certification to the Secretary of Education affirming that the school’s President, or equivalent officer, and at least one other member of the Board of Trustees have reviewed all Title IX and Clery Act sexual abuse investigations involving an employee that were reported that year. The annual certification would also require confirmation that neither the President, or equivalent officer, or board member had not interfered with or inappropriately influenced an ongoing investigation.
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.