Petition Seeks Harsher Punishment for Repeat Sexual Assault Offenders

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A University of Virginia student is starting a petition seeking harsher punishment from the university for people who commit multiple sexual assaults.

The five-page petition is addressed to UVA President Teresa Sullivan and the Board of Visitors. The petition's writers finished the final touches Saturday morning. 

UVA student Amalia Harte started the petition in hopes of helping survivors and preventing perpetrators of sexual assaults from harming more than one person. The petition asks UVA to automatically expel students found guilty of multiple rapes and to allow victims to be able to know they weren't the only one assaulted by the same offender.

"Knowing that that perpetrator has assaulted more than one woman, including them and the other survivor, I think that would give them the confidence to go forward and just ensure that that person does not keeping doing this kind of action,” said Harte.

Harte reached out to Title IX legal advocate Jules Irvin-Rooney.

"When Amalia approached me and said we have this huge problem on this campus, can you help make a petition and see what kind of change we can have,” said Irvin-Rooney.

The petition-writers also want to make resources and reporting practices clearer in hopes of encouraging more survivors to come forward.

"For it to be documented, for police to be called, for preservation of evidence to happen, so that it doesn't happen to the next girl,” said Irvin-Rooney.

Irvin-Rooney says she's glad recent events have thrust the topic of college sexual assault into the national spotlight. "This is a dialogue that doesn't stop with the Rolling Stone article, it doesn't stop with Hannah Graham, and it doesn't stop with UVA. It's for campuses across our nation.

She hopes UVA will take actions that encourage other universities to improve policies. "UVA has got the fervor and the student activists that are really going to help seek change and maybe be the lamplight for future schools,” said Irvin-Rooney.

The petition also asks UVA to require students take a quiz on its sexual misconduct policy when registering for classes.

UVA is currently being investigated by Title IX for possible violations under federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints. For the full list of schools being investigated, click here.

If you're interested in signing the petition, click here.