A provision to the 2021 defense policy bill aims to create space between sexual assault survivors and their alleged attackers at the U.S. Air Force Academy, U.S. Military Academy, and the U.S. Naval Academy so the students can get the chance to finish their studies.
The markup proposed by the House Armed Services military personnel subcommittee would charge the Defense Secretary with consulting all service Secretaries and service academy superintendents to create a policy that would prevent cadets or midshipmen from having to take classes with or be “in close proximity to” their alleged attackers during activities they’re required to attend at the schools.
According to proposed language, the policy must:
- Let survivors and accused attackers complete their studies at the academies “with minimal disruption”
- Safeguard the privacy of survivors and alleged attackers by only providing details regarding assaults and the parties involved to authorized individuals
“Being able to complete your education without fear of sexual assault is a basic civil right—one that has been denied to too many military service academy cadets and midshipmen,” said Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), chair of the subcommittee, in a statement to Air Force Magazine. “My provision in the military personnel mark to separate perpetrators and survivors as they complete their coursework and training is a long overdue step for the service academies and the least we can do to promote justice and fairness.”
Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Trent Kelly (R-Miss.) also expressed support for the measure.
“I am a member of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus and I remain a tireless advocate for reforms supporting readiness and the dignity and safety of every service member,” he said in a statement to Air Force Magazine. “I, like all members of the caucus and committee, remain committed to finding and institutionalizing focused solutions to eliminate sexual assault across all services. Additionally, I remain a strong supporter of bipartisan efforts offered by the caucus and I think the measures included in the subcommittee mark displays our desire to achieve those goals.”
The 2018-2019 academic year saw a 27-percent increase in sexual assault reports at the three academies, Air Force Magazine previously reported.
The Air Force Academy declined to comment on the provision, since it’s pending legislation.