By Pat Curtis

Iowa’s two U.S. Senators are backing legislation designed to curb sexual assaults on college campuses.

Republicans Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley both took part in a news conference today in Washington, D.C. urging Senate leadership to pass the Campus Accountability and Safety Act. Grassley says the measure would ensure campus sexual assault cases are handled with professionalism and fairness.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Education, 73 percent of the country’s universities and colleges have no protocols on how the institution and law enforcement work together to respond to campus sexual violence.

One section of the legislation would prohibit athletic departments from handling complaints of sexual violence against an athlete. “It always appears to us that there’s a great deal of sensitivity on the part of universities and the public support that athletic departments have…that somehow, it seems like, people in that area tend to get away with more than others,” Grassley said.

The legislation would also require colleges and universities to designate “confidential advisors” to assist survivors of sexual harassment and assault. It’s estimated that 80 percent of rape and sexual assaults against female students ages 18-24 go unreported to police.