With the March 7 effective date of the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act looming and the first Annual Security Reports impacted by the Act due later this year, the time for institutions of higher education to focus on updating policies and procedures is upon us.
On March 7, 2013, President Obama signed into law the “Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013” (VAWA). Section 304 of VAWA, known as the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (the “Campus SaVE Act” or “the Act”), amends the Clery Act, expanding the disclosure and policy obligations of institutions of higher education. The Act becomes effective on March 7, 2014, requiring that the 2014 annual security report (“ASR”) prepared by institutions of higher education incorporate the provisions of the Act.
Despite the many, and complicated, requirements of the Campus SaVE Act, it is set to take effect without regulatory guidance from the U.S. Department of Education (“DOE”). Negotiated rulemaking is ongoing and the results of that process are not anticipated to be made public until later this year. Despite the lack of final guidance from DOE, institutions are under an obligation to use “best efforts” to comply with the requirements of the Act this year.1
Implementation of the Campus SaVE Act on your campus requires that your institution2:
- Begin compiling statistics for the three newly-reportable crimes (domestic violence, dating violence and stalking) and two new hate crime bias classifications (national origin3 and gender identity);
- Review existing sexual violence prevention and awareness programs to determine what modifications and additions are necessary, remembering that the Campus SaVE Act not only requires programming for incoming students and new employees, but also mandates ongoing campaigns for all students and faculty;
- Update student disciplinary procedures and prepare specialized training for officials who conduct disciplinary proceedings;
- Prepare written statements of victim support services and accommodation options and implement a policy of providing these written materials to students, employees and victims as required; and
- Revise and update the policy statements included in your ASR to describe policies, procedures and programming regarding domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault.
The requirements of the Campus SaVE Act are many and the interplay of the Act with the requirements of Title IX is nuanced. A careful reading of the statute is necessary to ensure that your institution has adopted, implemented and is appropriately publicizing all required policies, procedures, and programs.