Bill Would Leave Sexual Misconduct Mark on Student Transcripts

Transcripts would be marked only if a student is found to violate the college’s sexual violence policy.

A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week would require colleges to give their reason for expulsion on student transcripts in certain cases.

The bill, introduced Dec. 8 by Rep. Jackie Speier, would only require the transcript mark on students who are found to have violated the college’s sexual violence policy.

Sexual assault victims’ advocates say the bill will prevent sexual predators from moving to other campuses without being held accountable and will enhance campus safety at schools around the country.

Further, supporters of the bill say transcripts are already marked at many schools for less-serious infractions like cheating.

“Sexual assault is a far more serious offense [than cheating] that deserves at least as much, if not greater, scrutiny,” Speier told the Associated Press.

If passed, the legislation would expand a policy that has already been adopted by states such as Virginia and New York.

RELATED: Major Changes Announced in BYU’s Title IX Policy, Sexual Assault Response

Opponents of the idea point to the varying and imperfect nature of some college disciplinary procedures to show their findings can be unreliable. They also stress that such boards use different standards of guilt from a court of law, and in many cases prosecutors don’t press charges against disciplined students due to a lack of evidence.

“It is an uneven playing field from the start,” defense lawyer Justin Dillon, who has worked with dozens of students accused of sexual misconduct, says. “Regardless of what colleges want to say, the burden is always on the accused student to prove his innocence, not the other way around.”

The bill would remove the notation from students’ transcripts five years after the disciplinary process was completed or one year after the initiation of the disciplinary process if that process is still pending.

The bill also includes a requirement for schools to clarify that marking transcripts is permitted under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

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