The Obama administration is strengthening the rules by which US colleges must abide for reporting violence on campuses.
The purpose is to give students more information about the level of sexual and domestic violence at their schools. Chris Staiti, writing for Bloomberg, says the final changes on the Clery Act were released last week, requiring colleges to publish any dating and domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking in their yearly crime reports. The act also includes that colleges must publish instances of crime including murder, sex offenses, and burglary.
“This is the most sweeping change to campus sexual assault policy in 20 years,” said Daniel Carter, director of the 32 National Campus Safety Initiative at the VTV Family Outreach Foundation, a Centreville, Virginia-based advocacy group. Carter was part of the nominated rule-making committee for the legislation.
Students have filed complaints with the Education Department expressing their concern that schools have violated the Clery Act, as well as Title IX, which bars gender discrimination in education, by not responding to and reporting sexual assaults. The final amendments to the Clery Act included gender identity and national origin as categories of bias which would establish a violent act as a hate crime. Colleges would then be required to give students information on disciplinary procedures and support programs. Another requirement in the act is that both the accuser and the accused have an equal opportunity to have an adviser of their choice present at their disciplinary hearings.
Named for Jeanne Clery, a 19-year-old student at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, who was raped and killed in her dorm room in 1986, the Clery Act was first enacted in 1990. The final rule will not go into effect until July, 2015, but all schools are expected to make a good faith effort to comply with the act’s requirements during this school year.
Some of the new requirements for higher education administrators, when confronted by an alleged violent crime on their campuses, had already been asked for by the US Department of Education. At least 23 institutions failed to include them on their annual crime reports. The Education Department has not said whether colleges will be required to pay fines for their lack of compliance. Tyler Kingkade of the Huffington Post, says the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, the name of the amendment to the Clery Act, makes clear that campuses must disclose these reports.
SurvJustice, an advocacy group, started filing formal complaints with the Education Department against 22 campuses alleging that they have violated the new additions to the Clery Act. These violations could carry $35,000 worth of fines per violation. Know Your IX wants campuses to know that Title IX covers more than just sexual assault and harassment.
“This Campus SaVE data is such a perfect place to start,” said Know Your IX co-founder Dana Bolger, “because publishing the number of reports a school receives of dating violence and stalking is so easy — it’s such low-hanging fruit, it’s such an easy ask. It’s absurd that schools are not following it.”