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Sexual assault victims on college campuses across the nation may have a 'bill of rights' of their own, if recently proposed congressional legislation is passed. Congressman Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.) has sponsored House Resolution 2363, "The Campus Sexual Assault Victims' Bill of Rights Act," which defines eight rights that sexual assault victims would be guaranteed, with passage of the bill. University officials said this week that established Residential Living procedures already comply with the proposed legislation. "Being the victim of a sexual assault is a terribly traumatic experience," Ramstad wrote in a letter to his collegues in Congress. "This experience is made even more traumatic when victims are left uncertain of their legal rights and options." Residential Living director Gigi Simeone said earlier this week that the University's policies follow the "spirit of the legislation." "We are commmitted to . . . all students," she said. "So certainly if someone came to us and felt that they were in an intimidating situation, we would take action." Simeone said the action would either be taken against those who were acting in a destructive manner to the community, to move the victim out of the situation, or a combination of the two. The legislation emphasizes that sexual assault victims have the right to have their crime investigated by civil and criminal authorities. Moreover, the legislation is designed to put the victim in complete control of all legal decisions that are made, by promoting an atmosphere which allows her to make rational decisions about whether or not to report the incident. "[Victims of sexual assault are to] be free from pressure to not report these crimes, or report them as a lesser offense," Ramstad wrote. The legislation would also require that victims have the same rights that are permitted to the accused. Ramstad's legislation would also require that the victims have the cooperation of the university in obtaining desired medical evidence. This also includes the right of the victim to be informed of any federal or state regulations regarding testing the sexual assault suspect for communicable diseases. The legislation would also ensure that the victim have access to established campus mental health and victim support systems. In addition, the legislation makes two stipulations regarding the universities' role in housing its students. First, the university must provide housing that guarantees no unwanted contact with alleged sexual assault assailants. The legislation would also require that the university allows students to move out of circumstances that may be sexually intimidating. The legislation currently has 57 co-sponors and according to Ramstad's spokesperson Lance Olsen, it will be introduced in the Senate by Joseph Biden (D-Del.). "We are very optimistic about this legislation," Spokesperson for Ramstad Darryl McKigney said. "It should be [passed] this year, when we hold the hearings." McKigney added that the bill applies to all universities that receive any type of federal aide.

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