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Texas Could Soon Have Some of the Strictest Campus Rape Laws in the Country

Following the highly-publicized sexual assault scandal at Baylor University, Texas is beginning to take action in order to seriously step up state campus rape laws.

According to Dallas News, Democratic State Senator (and Baylor alum) Kirk Watson filed five bills on Tuesday that are all designed to encourage the reporting of sexual violence and harassment.

If passed, the bills would require schools to create anonymous online reporting tools that could be used by victims and witnesses while preventing students from being punished for underage drinking or breaking campus rules if they are reporting. While many schools in Texas already have some form of “affirmative consent” laws that require students to obtain verbal consent from a partner, the bills would also require every school in the state to have affirmative consent laws in place.

Additionally, the bills would require any school employee and campus leader to report incidents of sexual assault within 24 hours, or be charged with a misdemeanor. However, Dallas News reports that there is some debate within the state senate about whether or not this specific part of the bills is constitutional.

The aggressive legislation is a reaction to a sexual assault scandal at Baylor University in Texas in which several Baylor football players were accused of sexual assault, and a lawsuit claimed that 31 of the university’s football players had committed 52 or more acts of rape in three years. Many of the victims claimed they were bullied into not reporting the incidents.

However, Texas lawmakers are also noting the laws are bigger than simply what happened at Baylor.

“While Baylor has highlighted this issue and caused a focus, this isn’t just about Baylor,” Watson told Dallas News. “We need a new culture in higher education.”

Caroline is the Evening/Weekend Editor and Style Editor at Her Campus, a senior public relations major at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a leather jacket enthusiast.  You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @c_pirozzolo. 
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