Governor mandates college rape kits

Saddleback College is preparing for rape kit mandate for victims I Photo by Ser Amantio di Nicolas

In a move to address sexual violence on college campuses, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1138 on October 8, 2023. The legislation, which amends Section 67386 of the Education Code, brings about changes to ensure campuses respond effectively to incidents of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

AB 1138 places added responsibilities on community college districts, the California State University Trustees, the University of California Regents, and independent postsecondary institutions. The aim is to establish victim-centered policies that comply with federal guidelines and cover a range of prevention and outreach programs.

In line with the legislation, institutions are mandated to implement robust prevention and outreach programs. These programs cover victim prevention, awareness campaigns, bystander intervention, and risk reduction and are now part of the orientation for every incoming student.

AB 1138 is the transportation service for victims seeking a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) or Sexual Abuse Response Team (SART) exam. Starting in the 2025–26 school year, institutions must offer transportation to and from SAFE or SART exam centers for qualified healthcare providers, ensuring student safety and confidentiality.

“AB 1138 just passed in early October. Compliance is required by the 2025-26 academic year, but we are already doing many things that are included in the bill,” said Jennie McCue, a spokesperson from Saddleback’s marketing department.

“We are always looking to provide more preventative education in a variety of modalities, and currently, our Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) and health and wellness experts are discussing ways to educate and inform our students as well as faculty and staff,” McCue said.

Saddleback Police Lieutenant Mike Betzler acknowledged the potential impact on transportation services and accompaniment for sexual assault victims.

“Formalizing policies and procedures for the provision of transportation and the student’s right to be accompanied to the examination by a certified sexual assault counselor or support person of the student’s choosing will likely be the challenge,” Betzler said.

Despite these challenges, Saddleback is already taking proactive measures. The police department highlighted collaboration with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the Health Center to ensure students’ rights and safety are upheld, Betzler said.

For more information on AB 1138 and Saddleback’s response, visit the Student Health and Wellness Center page on the college website.