Costello Op-Ed: Improving the higher education experience
As published in the Chester County Times
The Borough of West Chester is humming once again as students have returned to campus for a new academic year. In a similar fashion, though without the boxes of textbooks and bags of clean laundry, Congress returned to Capitol Hill with a full agenda of critical policy items to address this fall.
In the coming months, the House will work to advance legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, providing us with an excellent opportunity to improve the higher education experience for our children and families.
Often overlooked in the greater education discussion is that of campus safety. This fall, an important item on my syllabus is ensuring that our children have a safe campus environment.
Congress needs to refocus its efforts so that the campus environment, where students live, learn, and work, is healthy and secure. Likewise, we must ensure that parents have the peace of mind to know that a child’s college or university is doing all it can to foster a safe and accountable school environment.
To this end, I have cosponsored bipartisan legislation called the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, H.R. 1310. This legislation offers a comprehensive and overdue upgrade to security compliance requirements for colleges and universities.
In particular, H.R. 1310 would require schools that receive certain federal funds to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with local law enforcement agencies to clearly spell out responsibilities and share information regarding serious crimes, including sexual violence, occurring against students on campus.
Further, this legislation would require colleges and universities to enhance campus security policies, as well as provide greater support services and training to assist victims of crimes that occur on campus. In order to do this, H.R. 1310 would enable the federal government to help schools enhance their ability to prevent crime on campus.
We all want our students to be successful in their educational endeavors. By taking simple steps to improve security policies on-campus, we can create an environment where students worry more about whether or not they can pull an all-nighter studying to pass their Chemistry exam, not if they can walk home from that library safely at night.