Governor Signs Pollet Bill Expanding Protections Against Sexual Misconduct by Faculty and University Administrators

OLYMPIA— Governor Inslee has signed into law House Bill 1522 providing increased accountability for sexual misconduct at institutions of higher education. Representative Gerry Pollet, D- North Seattle, championed the legislation in the wake of a survey discovering that approximately 50 percent of all women students have suffered from some form of sexual harassment, as well as over 50 percent of graduate students and a significant portion of LGBTQ students.

Until now, administrators and faculty members found to have committed sexual misconduct, especially at association events, have been able to quietly leave an institution providing no knowledge of the offense to their next employer.

“Sexual misconduct should be reported by prospective faculty as a measure of transparency and accountability on both the part of the employee and employer” said Rep. Pollet. “We know this is a widespread societal problem and there needs to be a mechanism to protect students at a vulnerable and formative time of their lives”.

UW Faculty Senate had identified the bill as a priority along with the wide support by college students statewide and the Washington Student Association (WSA). Regarding workplace and student safety, UW Faculty Senate Chair Jacob Vigdor previously shared that “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.”

Nancy Canales-Montiel, executive director for the WSA shared “students who leave the safety of their family and home don’t want to arrive to a campus with potential abusers among their faculty. Preventing sexual assault and holding faculty to this standard is what students expect administration to do”.

Second Substitute House Bill 1522 passed the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law by the Governor on April 13th. For more information on the bill from Representative Gerry Pollet, click here.