House Passes Pollet Bill Expanding Protections Against Sexual Misconduct by Faculty and University Administrators  

OLYMPIA—Representative Gerry Pollet, D- North Seattle, has brought forward House Bill 1522 to provide increased accountability for sexual misconduct in institutions of higher education. The House has passed HB 1522 which seeks justice for survivors of sexual assault at the collegiate level with unfair power struggles.  

This bill requires faculty applicants to higher education institutions to sign a disclosure statement regarding substantiated findings of sexual misconduct at professional associations. If the applicant refuses to sign the disclosure statement or if the institution requesting the information finds that the applicant has committed sexual misconduct, then the applicant will not be able to move forward in the hiring process. 

“Approximately 50% of all female students, well over 50% of female graduate students, and a significant portion of LGBTQIA+ students have faced sexual assault by a faculty member at an institution of higher education or a conference,” said Rep. Pollet. “Victims see their abusers walk free while they are left to process that trauma for the rest of their life. This is not how it should be. The UW faculty and administration are leading the nation in their commitment to address sexual harassment and misconduct.” 

The need for the bill was identified as a priority by the UW Faculty Senate. Sexual harassment in higher education is a safety issue for students and a workplace safety issue for faculty and staff. University and college students across Washington have rallied in support, most recently, with Jacob Vigdor, Co-Chair of the Washington Council of Faculty, and a member of the UW Faculty Senate.  

He shared, “far too many of my colleagues have experienced or witnessed misconduct off-campus at conferences and meetings, events that they need to attend to advance their careers but are beyond the reach of employer-led investigations. This is a critical step toward making colleges in Washington safer places to learn and work.”   

SHB 1522 passed the House unanimously and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.