WASHINGTON — The Kering Foundation endorsed antisexual assault legislation Wednesday aimed at cracking down on sexual violence on college campuses while providing more support to victims and training for college officials.
In an open letter to the bill’s cosponsors, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) and Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), the Kering Foundation called on lawmakers to pass the legislation and quickly enact the new policies outlined in it.
Laurent Claquin, head of Kering Americas and a board member of the foundation, said, “Be it as an employer, colleague, educator, relative or friend, we all have a responsibility to do our utmost to end America’s sexual violence epidemic.”
The foundation, he said, believes that it is “time to enact legislation and enforce the necessary cultural change.”
The Campus Accountability and Safety Act would implement several new measures, including a uniform student disciplinary process that would eliminate the ability of schools to let athletic departments or subgroups handle sexual violence complaints against members in the group, enhanced coordination with law enforcement agencies, and tougher enforcement and penalties under the current statute, according to a fact sheet from the bill’s sponsors.
Under the bill, schools that fail to comply with certain requirements would face a penalty of up to 1 percent of the institution’s operating budget. Under current law, the only allowable penalty is the loss of all financial aid, which the bill’s cosponsors said is not practical and has never been done.
The bill would also increase penalties for violations of the law to up to $150,000 per violation, a significant increase over the current penalty of $35,000 per violation.
Educational institutions would also be required to publicly disclose statistics on sexual offenses on campuses in an effort to establish more transparency around sexual violence in the U.S., and provide students, parents and school officials with the full scope of the problem.
A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.).
Women’s empowerment issues have been a top priority of Kering, a French luxury group that is the parent of a large stable of brands including Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen and Brioni, which has been involved in several initiatives around the world through its corporate foundation.
The foundation was launched in 2009 to combat violence against women. It focuses on sexual violence in the Americas, harmful traditional practices in Western Europe and domestic violence in Asia. The foundation also supports projects in conjunction with NGOs, social entrepreneurs and awareness campaigns involving the company’s 38,000 employees.
The company and foundation work on college campuses to change the culture surrounding sexual violence with the “It’s On Us” campaign, supports antisexual violence education with “We End Violence,” and encourages its employees to participate in an internal training program in conjunction with the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
According to national statistics cited by the company, a woman is sexually assaulted or beaten in the U.S. every nine seconds, while one in five women experiences sexual violence on college campuses.
Less than 5 percent of campus sexual assaults in the U.S. are reported to law enforcement and only six out of 1,000 perpetrators of sexual violence end up in prison.
More than 70 percent of educational institutions do not have protocols on how to work with law enforcement to respond to sexual violence.