As Minnesota college students return to campus this fall, a new law may provide them – and their parents – some peace of mind.

Under a law that went into effect August 1, all incoming students at Minnesota colleges and universities must receive sexual assault preventation training at the beginning of their first semester, and campus security officers and administration must be trained in how to respond to reports of sexual assault.

Institutions will also be required to have uniform policies in place for responding to allegations of assault. Many of the state’s colleges and universities already have policies, but the new law will make it a requirement – and help ensure that they’re on the same page as local law enforcement.

All accredited Minnesota colleges and universities must also now do the following:

  • provide a trained victim’s advocate,
  • coordinate with local law enforcement,
  • make it possible for students to report incidents online,
  • provide screenings for sexual violence at any campus health centers or clinics and
  • exempt students who make “good faith” reports of sexual harassment or violence from sanctions for violating drug or alcohol use policies.

High-profile cases aside, it’s not always easy to get a good sense of how common allegations of campus sexual assault are. The law will also help clarify that – schools are now required to report data to the state every year on the number of sexual assault cases reported and the number of disciplinary actions as a resolute. The first report may be available as early as December, according to the Star Tribune. Individual case details will remain confidential, but overall numbers may provide some insight into how common sexual assault is on Minnesota campuses.

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