We know you’re busy preparing your campus for the Fall semester or welcoming students to campus. Over the next few months, however, there are some important developments you should be following. Below is a handy overview.
The Campus SaVE Act Regulations
Yes, the Campus SaVE Act is already law, but the regulations are still being finalized and won’t be released until November.
Signed into law in March of 2013, the Campus SaVE Act amends the Clery Act. It includes three major provisions: it expands the crimes that schools must report in their Annual Security Report; it establishes what should be included in the school’s policies and procedures to address campus sexual assault; and, finally, it mandates extensive “primary prevention and awareness programs” — which include training for students and staff — regarding recovery, reporting, and preventing sexual misconduct and related offenses.
After a process of negotiated rulemaking, the Department of Education published the draft regulations for the SaVE Act in the Federal Register this June, collected public comments on the proposed regulations this summer, and will publish the final regulations by November 1st. The regulations will be effective by July 1, 2015. Though the final regulations have not been published, schools need to make a good faith effort to comply with the SaVE Act by October 1st this year.
Check out some of our past coverage of the SaVE Act.
The Campus Safety and Accountability Act (CASA)
Of the bills recently introduced into the Senate or House of Representatives, CASA has received the lion’s share of the attention. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Claire McCaskill are the most visible sponsors of the bill, but CASA enjoys strong bi-partisan support and includes prominent Republican co-sponsors such as Marco Rubio. The bill was developed by McCaskill and Gillibrand through a series of roundtables with victims, survivors, experts, advocates, and administrators. The senators also conducted a national survey of colleges and universities about how they responded to sexual misconduct on their campuses. Based on the findings of the survey and roundtables, the bill aims to curb campus sexual violence “by protecting and empowering students, and strengthening accountability and transparency for institutions.”
Specifically, the bill introduces fines for non-compliant institutions of up to 1% of their operating budgets and increases penalties for Clery Act violations from $35,000 to as much as $150,000 per violation. In terms of transparency, CASA would establish a government administered annual campus climate survey as well as a website run by the Department of Education with contact information for all Title IX coordinators and information on the Department of Education’s investigations, findings, and resolution agreements related to Title IX. Finally, the bill increases support and resources for victims and survivors through provisions detailing extensive training for staff, the creation of a new confidential advisor position at all higher-education institutions, and a required amnesty policy for students who reveal conduct violations (such as underage drinking) when reporting in good faith an incident of sexual violence.
For our past coverage, check out this list of our stories about CASA.
The Survivor Outreach and Support Campus Act (SOS Campus Act)
Introduced in the Senate by Barbara Boxer, and in the House by Susan Davis, the SOS Campus Act is fairly straightforward; it would require schools to “designate an independent advocate for campus sexual assault and prevention.” The Advocate would help victims and survivors connect with support resources like counseling or legal services and guide them through the reporting and adjudication processes. The bill emphasizes the independence of this new position, explaining that “the Advocate shall represent the interests of the student victim even when in conflict with the interests of the institution.”
Boxer recently wrote a letter to Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California, asking her to voluntarily adopt the provisions in the bill: “I am working hard to pass the SOS Campus Act in Congress, but our students cannot afford to wait another minute for that to happen.”
Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency on Campus Sexual Violence Act (HALT Act)
Introduced by Representatives Jackie Speier and Pat Meehan, the HALT Act — like CASA — would improve transparency around campus sexual assault and increase the sanctions for schools violating student’s Title IX civil rights.
The HALT Act would require public disclosure of resolution agreements and program reviews from Title IX investigations and create mandatory climate surveys (the first of which would have to be administered no later than April 1st, 2015). It would also create a Campus Sexual Violence Task Force that would, among other things, publish an annual report on these issues.
With the praise of some and the condemnation of others, the bill would also create much stronger sanctions for non-compliant schools. It gives the Office of Civil Rights the ability to levy fines, “the amount of which shall be determined by the gravity of the violation.” It also gives students a private right of action. In other words, students could sue schools directly without going through the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
New Training Materials
The White House’s Not Alone report promised a host of new training materials and information on best-practices for this fall. Below is a list of what we can expect:
- This Fall — “the CDC, in collaboration with the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women and the Department of Education, will convene a panel of experts to identify emerging, promising practices to prevent sexual assault on campus.”
- September — “the Justice Department’s Center for Campus Public Safety will develop a training program for campus officials involved in investigating and adjudicating sexual assault cases.”
- December — “the Department of Education, through the National Center on Safe and Supportive Learning Environments, will develop trauma-informed training materials for campus health center staff.”
We look forward to the release of these materials, which should prove valuable to schools trying to develop and improve their comprehensive awareness and prevention programs.
Even without the passage of any new legislation, new federal regulations, along with the recommendations and workshops, should provide schools with a strong set of requirements and best practices that will help them change campus culture to eliminate sexual violence.