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Senators Introduce Resolution Mandating Sexual Harassment Prevention Training in the Senate

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

 

WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as well as Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) have today introduced a senate resolution that would mandate sexual harassment prevention training for all employees of the Senate.

“As a body of elected officials, we Senators have an obligation to set an example. Establishing a healthy and productive work environment should be no exception to that obligation.  We should do everything possible to make sure our colleagues and staffs don’t have to endure harassment if we can prevent it,” Senator Grassley said. “Trainings like this are important for cultivating the right kind of working environment and setting the baseline standards that any place of work should have.”

“Women deserve to feel safe at work, and every employer and employee—including the U.S. Senate—must take sexual harassment seriously. Our resolution makes clear that all Senate employees should be trained in this area and that harassment will not be tolerated. We’re also working on legislation to reform the Senate’s process for handling complaints so that victims can come forward with confidence and violators face appropriate consequences,”Senator Feinstein said.

 

“Sexual harassment training should be mandatory in the United States Senate,” said Senator Klobuchar, Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee. “I look forward to working with Senator Grassley and my Rules Committee colleagues to pass and implement this important update to Senate policy.”

“There is no place for sexual harassment on our college campuses, in our workplace, our gyms, our military – or anywhere else,” said Senator Ernst. “It is critical that Congress has zero tolerance for such inappropriate behavior and action in our society. I am glad to join my colleagues in this measure to ensure that Members of the Senate and their staffs are provided with the necessary training on prevention and reporting procedures to combat sexual harassment..”

“I am proud to join a bipartisan group of my colleagues to introduce this resolution to help combat sexual harassment in Congress,” said Senator Gillibrand. “What we are seeing from the powerful #MeToo campaign is that sexual assault and sexual harassment are pervasive across our entire society. What you see time and again in institutions all around the country is a culture where power and fear keep sexual assault and sexual harassment in the shadows. Congress is no different. Congress should never be above the law or play by their own set of rules. This bipartisan resolution would help hold this institution accountable by mandating sexual harassment prevention training for Members, interns and their staffs.”

“Sexual harassment—under any circumstance and in any setting—is simply unacceptable. As members of Congress and staff serving the American people, we have a responsibly to set an example of what it means to foster an appropriate and respectful work environment,” Senator Capito said. “This resolution will help ensure our policies reflect these priorities and make it clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated in the United States Senate.”

 

The bipartisan “Senate Training on Prevention of Sexual Harassment” or “STOP Sexual Harassment” resolution (S. Res. 323) requires all Senate members, staff, interns, fellows and detailees to complete the sexual harassment prevention training offered by the Office of Compliance (OOC) or the Office of the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment. The training must be completed no later than 60 days after starting work in the Senate.  Further, the Committee on Rules and Administration is to issue rules about periodic completion of the training.

The resolution also calls for an anonymous survey to be administered by the Sergeant at Arms that will gather information about instances of sexual harassment or related behavior in the Senate.

The congressional Office of Compliance (OOC) was established under the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995, a statute that Grassley sponsored to ensure that Congress follows the same civil rights, labor, workplace safety and health laws as other federal agencies and the private sector.  OOC and the Office of the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment offer sexual harassment training to Senate offices, but this training is not mandatory.  This resolution aims to change that.

 

Last week, Grassley wrote to the leaders of the Committee on Rules and Administration requesting that the committee unilaterally issue rules requiring these trainings, but was informed that a resolution would likely be necessary to implement such mandates.

Full text of the resolution can be found here.

A prepared statement for the Congressional Record by Chairman Grassley follows.

Prepared Statement of Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa

On the Sexual Harassment Training for Senators and Staff

November 7, 2017

 Mr. President, allegations of sexual harassment against a growing number of people have surfaced recently. Some facing the accusations have issued public apologies, while others have maintained their innocence. But the allegations continue to mount, and as each new one surfaces, so grows my concern about whether we’re doing enough to combat this problem.

There are many things on which members of this chamber don’t agree, but one thing on which we can and should agree is this: sexual harassment has no place in the workforce.  And it certainly has no place in the halls of Congress.

To signal how seriously I take this issue, I last week called on the Senate Rules Committee to impose a requirement of sexual harassment training for every employee in this chamber. Today, I’m introducing a bipartisan resolution to ensure that the Rules Committee has the authority necessary to ensure that every member of this chamber, every employee on the Senate payroll, and every unpaid Senate intern receives anti-harassment training.

This is not an onerous requirement, and it’s one that’s long overdue.  Training materials on harassment already exist, thanks to the Congressional Office of Compliance and our Office of the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment.  It’s already mandatory for my Judiciary Committee staff and personal office staff to take anti-harassment training. The executive branch and some private employers already have instituted similar training requirements for their employees.

More than two decades ago, I sponsored the Congressional Accountability Act as a sign of our commitment to promoting fairness in the workplace. This 1995 statute requires Congress to follow the same civil rights, labor, workplace safety, and health laws to which other employers are subject. The law also established our Office of Compliance to implement the law’s dispute resolution, education, and enforcement provisions for Congress. That office not only mediates sexual harassment complaints but also has developed sexual harassment training for congressional offices.  The Office of the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment also makes anti-harassment training available to Senators and staff.

The resolution I’m introducing today also calls for the Sergeant at Arms to develop an anonymous survey on the prevalence of sexual harassment in the Senate.  This survey, which will be conducted every two years, is to be developed in consultation with the Office of Compliance and Office of the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment.

 

I have tremendous respect for my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I believe each of you works hard to ensure that your offices are professional, free of harassment, and places where merit’s rewarded. But I think we have to acknowledge that in our society, despite our best efforts and intentions, sexual harassment remains a serious problem. And we must work together to make sure that the Senate remains free from harassment.

Some may say that policies regarding sexual harassment should be left to the discretion of each office. But I believe it’s important for every Senate office to have a consistent stance on this particular issue. Every office should receive the same training so the Senate maintains a culture in which harassment is not tolerated. This is a common interest we all share. The voters who sent us here expect the best. We owe it to the American people to hold ourselves and our employees to the highest standards of conduct and professionalism.

Mr. President, I want to close by thanking Senators Feinstein, Klobuchar, Ernst, and Gillibrand for working so closely with me on the development of this resolution.  I urge my colleagues to embrace a common sense approach to preventing sexual harassment by supporting its passage.

 

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Pahala Elem 3rd grade students attend “Tita the Turtle” (focus on healthy relationships)

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Ka’u Rural Health Community Association, Third grade students from Pahala Elementary School were invited to attend the premier of author Malie Ibarra’s “Tita the Turtle” story and activity book, at Pahala County Parks and Recreation gym.  “Tita the Turtle” was created to emphasize healthy relationships, and to model successful behaviors among children in rural underserved communities.
 
In 2007, the Hawaii State Department of Health embarked on what would become a two year statewide Sexual Violence Primary Prevention Program (SVPP) planning effort.  One of the assessments demonstrated that there was a need for general public awareness of sexual violence and a need to educate youth and young adults about healthy relationships.
 
One pf the main initiatives is to identify prevention goals and generate strategies that could be implemented to achieve outcomes, “to support healthy, respectful, non-violent relationships by increasing positive social norms and eliminating negative social norms that tolerate sexual violence”. 
Turtle

Ka’u Community Volunteers aid in constructing covering for ADA ramp at KRHCAI

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KAU RURAL HEALTH COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION

PRESS RELEASE

The Kau Rural Health Community Association (KRHCAI) is currently working on a project to construct a covering for their existing ADA ramp with many community members, volunteers from the Rotary Club of Volcano and the 871st Army Reserve Engineer unit of Hilo.

Auntie Jessie Marques, KRHCAI Executive Director has been working with George “Bev” Garrett, President of the Rotary Club of Volcano and the 871st Engineer Company Commanded by Captain Luke Goeckner.  Leslie Isemoto of Isemoto Construction assisted with the Building Permit.

Throughout the month of November, volunteers put together concrete footings, poured the concrete and constructed the ADA ramp overhang During the weekend of November 18th through November 19th, approximately thirty members of the 871st Engineer Co. will be led by the project leader Mr. Jay Zheng during the construction process.  While this project has come together with many volunteers, funding for materials is provided by a grant from the Atherton Family Foundation.

Volunteers

Front row: Bill and Carol Hamilton.Back row: Ashtin Karasuda, Raymond Marques, John Javar, Jessie Marques, Dustin Salmo and George Bev Garret.

Tai Chi/Qigong to be offered in Pahala

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New dates available for classes –

Taichi

Dr. Myrtle Miyamura is a dentist and tai chi teacher. She practices and teaches Medical Qigong and is a Certified Instructor for the Tai Chi for Health Institute’s Tai Chi for Arthritis, Tai Chi for Diabetes, and Tai Chi for Rehabilitation programs here in Hilo.

She has presented information on teeth and gum care for diabetics at Hui Malama Ola Na Oiwi, the Akaka Falls Lions Diabetes Conference, and the Senior Learning Lecture series.

She has given presentations on Medical Qigong as part of a required course on Alternative and Complementary Medicine at the Daniel K. Inouye School of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

She has also conducted interactive presentations on Tai Chi and Fall Prevention for the Hawaii State Rural Health Association, the Hawaii Island Rural Health Association, Ka’u Rural Health Community Association, Life Care Center of Hilo and Daniel K. Inouye School of Pharmacy health fairs.

AG Doug Chin calls on Secretary Devos to maintain protections for survivors of campus sexual assault

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State Seal
DEPARTMENT OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
 
DAVID Y. IGE
GOVERNOR
DOUGLAS S. CHIN
ATTORNEY GENERAL
For Immediate Release                                                                                                                             News Release 2017-93
July 19, 2017
ATTORNEY GENERAL DOUG CHIN CALLS ON SECRETARY DEVOS TO MAINTAIN
PROTECTIONS FOR SURVIVORS OF CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT
HONOLULU — Attorney General Doug Chin today joined with New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, and 17 other state Attorneys General in a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos expressing concern over reports the Department of Education is preparing to roll back important protections for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses and urging her to keep these protections in place. The Attorneys General also called on Secretary DeVos to work collaboratively with them to take action to end the scourge of sexual violence.
Incidents of sexual assault on college campuses are widespread. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that, on average, 20.5 percent of college women had experienced sexual assault since entering college while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in five women experienced sexual assault in their lifetimes. Moreover, the vast majority of these incidents go unreported. According to a study from the American Association of Universities, reporting rates for some types of assaults were as low as five percent, in part due to survivors’ concerns about coming forward.
Attorney General Chin said, “I join my colleagues in calling on Secretary DeVos to protect survivors of campus sexual assault, period. As a career prosecutor, I do not believe this should be a difficult decision for the Secretary to make. Listen to the students, respect them, and protect them.”
The Department of Education’s current guidance was first issued in 2011 and later clarified in 2014. The guidance instructs colleges on how they must address sexual assault incidents under Title IX. These steps include appointing a Title IX coordinator, requiring mandatory reporting by responsible school officials, and implementing procedures for handling investigations and hearings.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Title IX tracker, as of July 9, 2017 there have been 408 investigations of colleges for their handling of reports of sexual violence. 64 of those have been resolved and 344 remain open.
Of particular concern to the Attorneys General were the comments from Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson, who claimed that 90 percent of campus sexual assault allegations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right.’”
Attorney General Chin added in response to the Assistant Secretary’s comments, “I’ve been a prosecutor for more than 15 years. This kind of talk is wrong. It’s degrading. It’s insulting to victims. And it’s dangerous.”
The letter reaffirmed the Attorneys Generals’ commitment to working collaboratively with Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education to address the problem of sexual assault, including suggesting the Secretary engage with a bipartisan group of Attorneys General and other stakeholders to discuss collaboration.
In addition to Attorney General Chin, Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro, and New Mexico Attorney General Balderas, Attorneys General from the following 17 states signed on to the letter to Secretary DeVos are: California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia.
A copy of the letter is below.
# # #
For more information, contact:
Joshua A. Wisch
Special Assistant to the Attorney General
Twitter: @ATGHIgov

 

 

JOSH SHAPIRO ATTORNEY GENERAL

The Honorable Elisabeth DeVos Secretary
United States Department of Education 400 Maryland Avenue, SW Washington, D.C. 20202

Dear Secretary DeVos:

July 19, 2017

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL

We are writing to express our serious concern over reports that your office is preparing to roll back important protections for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses.

As Attorneys General, we see the impact campus sexual assault has on survivors, educational institutions, and our communities. Incidents of sexual assault on colleges and universities are widespread: the American Association of Universities (AAU) has found that 23 percent of female undergraduates were the victims of sexual assault or sexual misconduct due to physical force, threats of force, or incapacitation.1 The federal government’s own studies have reached similar conclusions: the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that, on average, 20.5% of college women had experienced sexual assault since entering college2 while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in five of women experienced sexual assault in her lifetime.3 Moreover, the vast majority of these incidents go unreported. In fact, the AAU study concluded that reporting rates for some types of assaults were as low as 5 percent, in part due to survivors’ concerns about coming forward.

Thanks to the tireless work of survivors and advocates, our nation is beginning to understand the full scope of this epidemic. The Department of Education’s current guidance reaffirms the obligation of colleges and universities to protect survivors of sexual assault.

1 AAU Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct (2015), https://www.aau.edu/key-issues/aau-climate-survey-sexual-assault-and-sexual-misconduct-2015.

2 Campus Climate Survey Validation Study, Final Technical Report, Appx. E, https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/App_E_Sex-Assault-Rape-Battery.pdf.

3 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf.

The Honorable Elisabeth DeVos July 19, 2017 Page 2 of 4

Among other provisions, the guidance reaffirms that Title IX requires institutions to use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard in investigating allegations of sexual harassment or domestic violence. While we recognize that there is a great deal more that can be done to protect students and agree on the importance of ensuring that investigations are conducted fairly, a rushed, poorly-considered effort to roll back current policies sends precisely the wrong message to all students. Yet there is every indication that is exactly the approach your Department is taking.

In particular, we were deeply troubled by the comments attributed to Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson, who claimed that ninety percent of campus sexual assault allegations “fall into the category of ‘we were both drunk,’ ‘we broke up, and six months later I found myself under a Title IX investigation because she just decided that our last sleeping together was not quite right’.” While we appreciate that Ms. Jackson has issued an apology, her comments communicate to survivors of campus sexual assault that the Department does not take their concerns seriously and that it is not committed to continuing its current efforts to combat this epidemic on our college campuses. Coming on the heels of news that she has directed the Office for Civil Rights to reduce its efforts to identify systematic problems in conducting investigations, we have serious concerns as to whether Ms. Jackson can be entrusted to oversee a fair, thorough process in evaluating the Department’s policies in this area.

Despite our concerns, we are committed to working collaboratively with your Department to address the problem of sexual assault on America’s college campuses. But any effort in this area must be deliberate and allow for meaningful input from all stakeholders, and it must focus on the ultimate goal of ensuring that all students are protected from discrimination, including sexual harassment, assault, stalking and domestic violence, under Title IX. To that end, we urge you to directly engage with a broad, representative group of stakeholders, including survivors, victims’ rights advocates, law enforcement, and a bipartisan group of Attorneys General from around the country, so we can take action together to end the scourge of sexual violence on our college and university campuses. Furthermore, we urge you to continue to implement and uphold these important civil rights protections so that all students are able to learn in a safe environment free from violence and discrimination.

response.

We stand ready to partner with you in this effort and look forward to your Sincerely,

JOSH SHAPIRO HECTOR BALDERAS Pennsylvania Attorney General Attorney General of New Mexico

XAVIER BECERRA California Attorney General

MATTHEW DENN Delaware Attorney General

DOUGLAS S. CHIN Hawaii Attorney General

TOM MILLER
Iowa Attorney General

JANET T. MILLS Maine Attorney General

MAURA HEALEY Massachusetts Attorney General

ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN New York Attorney General

The Honorable Elisabeth DeVos July 19, 2017 Page 3 of 4

GEORGE JEPSEN Connecticut Attorney General

KARL A. RACINE Attorney General for the District of Columbia

LISA MADIGAN Illinois Attorney General

ANDY BESHEAR Kentucky Attorney General

BRIAN E. FROSH Maryland Attorney General

LORI SWANSON Minnesota Attorney General

JOSH STEIN
Attorney General of North Carolina

ELLEN F. ROSENBLUM Oregon Attorney General

T.J. DONOVAN
Vermont Attorney General

The Honorable Elisabeth DeVos July 19, 2017 Page 4 of 4

PETER F. KILMARTIN Rhode Island Attorney General

MARK R. HERRING Virginia Attorney General