The persistent problem of sexual assault on college campuses is receiving attention in both the public sphere and state legislatures. Although a considerable body of research examines various aspects of campus sexual assault, such as rates and reporting, scholars have not examined how state characteristics and interstate dynamics influence the policy process related to campus sexual assault. This gap is compounded by an underemphasis on gender in theories of state policy adoption, even as a record number of women serve in state legislatures. Drawing on a data set that captures the introduction and enactment of campus sexual assault legislation between 2007 and 2017, David R. Johnson and Liang Zhang examine in this article how the state policy adoption and diffusion framework explains the introduction and enactment of campus sexual assault policy. The results of their study show that the number of forcible sex offenses at public colleges, the number of female Democrats in state senates, contributions from women’s interest groups, gubernatorial power, Republican influence, and bipartisan sponsorship influence the campus sexual assault policy process, with varying influence across legislative stages. The authors discuss the implications of their findings for researchers interested in policy adoption and gender issues as well as for advocates working on campus sexual assault policy reform.

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