Addressing Campus Safety Through State Policy

Postsecondary & Workforce

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Safety on college and university campuses continues to be a topic on the minds of legislators: Since the beginning of the year, we have tracked more than 180 bills related to campus safety — 48 related to guns on campus and 90 related to sexual violence.

Our new 50-State Comparison captures policies related to these two issues that are codified in statute,  providing a high-level view of the work in states to address campus safety and set a foundation for further policy development by institutions. Here are some of the key findings from our resource.

On campus sexual assault awareness and prevention:

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women describes several interconnected aspects that affect personal safety on campus, including understanding consent, knowing what bystanders can do to prevent sexual assault, providing education on how and to whom to report a crime, and understanding the principles of confidentiality. We explored state policies on several of these aspects and found that 22 states have codified a campus sexual assault policy in statute. Of those, five have defined affirmative consent in their policy, and 17 require institutions to provide regular training for students and/or staff on topics related to campus sexual assault awareness and prevention.

On guns on campus:

Whether or not students and staff may carry guns on campus is a complex topic that crosscuts policies at the state and institutional levels, as well as the intersection of concealed carry laws and civil liberties. We looked at which states either allow or prohibit guns on campus and which states allow guns in locked vehicles on college campuses. Twenty-two states have written into statute a prohibition against individuals carrying firearms on public college or university campuses, and eight states allow guns on campuses. Of note from our research is that 11 of the 22 states that prohibit guns on campus allow guns to be kept in locked vehicles on campus.

Next week, on the Ed Note blog, we’ll share how the Louisiana Board of Regents is working on elevating student voice in campus sexual assault policy development through campus climate surveys. In the meantime, postsecondary campus safety is on our 2019 State Education Policy Watch List, so keep up to date on all the related bills we’re tracking there.

Author profile
Policy Analyst at Education Commission of the States |

Karole contributes to the work of the policy team with a focus on topics in postsecondary education. Prior to joining Education Commission of the States, Karole worked for the Legislative Audit Bureau, the Wisconsin HOPE Lab and the Institute for Research on Poverty in her home state of Wisconsin. When Karole is not analyzing legislation or preparing data insights, she can be found exploring the state of Colorado and searching for the best vegan food in Denver.

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