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DCL: Good Faith Effort to Comply Required

Posted by On Tuesday, July 15, 2014

On Monday, July 14, 2014, the ED issued a Dear Colleague Letter because they “have received numerous inquiries from institutions asking us to clarify their responsibilities under the Clery Act, as amended by VAWA.” This guidance repeats ED statements from May 2013 with a bit more clarity: “until final regulations are published and effective, institutions must make a good-faith effort to comply with the statutory provisions as written.”

The ED’s guidance says good faith compliance with amendments to the Clery Act, which include the Campus SaVE Act, requires institutions to expand their policies to describe the procedures and programs that satisfy those new requirements. For example, the Campus SaVE Act requires each school to have a policy that describes the procedures that will be followed when a student reports a sexual assault incident and what standard of evidence will be used to decide an accused student’s responsibility for the assault.

Therefore, the ED will be looking for information in the policy statement submitted with a school’s October 2014 Annual Security Report that satisfies all of the requirements in the Campus SaVE Act, including a description of its prevention program.

However, this begs the question what’s a “good-faith effort”? A reasonable interpretation of the DCL’s guidance is that colleges and universities need to make meaningful efforts to implement these policies by offering prevention programs that do more than satisfy “check-the-box” compliance. Additionally, the DCL warns that training will require ongoing updates to meet the evolving legal requirements. The most recent DCL also confirmed that the ED expects to publish final regulations by November 1st, which will become effective on July 1, 2015.

More than 150 colleges and universities across the country have signed on to use CampusClarity’s award-winning Think About It program for incoming students. CampusClarity is a service of LawRoom, which offers separate training to educate higher education employees on identifying, reporting, and preventing campus sexual violence. These courses have been updated to reflect the latest guidance from the ED, as well as the proposed regulations, and we are committed to revising our programs as final regulations, best practices, and further guidance from the ED are issued. Our team of legal compliance experts is uniquely able to adapt course content as these training mandates evolve.

It’s going to be a challenging year for higher education. We’re committed to helping colleges and universities address the complex problem of campus sexual assault at multiple levels by providing high quality, up-to-date information, training programs, and resources.

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