On March 7, 2014, a key section of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) went into effect, imposing new obligations on colleges and universities for the handling of sexual misconduct on campus. The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act) enhances the Clery Act in an effort to improve the way in which colleges and universities address and respond to incidents of sexual violence on campus.
New Reporting Requirements
The Clery Act already requires institutions to gather statistics for various criminal offenses, including forcible and non-forcible sex offenses and aggravated assault. In addition to requiring that victims' names be omitted in reports, the SaVE Act creates three new categories of sexual harassment and assault that colleges and universities must report: domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. It also requires these institutions to report incidents involving gender identity, national origin and sexual orientation under the category of hate crimes.
Student Discipline Requirements
Federal law already requires institutions to provide students with procedures to follow if an incident occurs on campus. The SaVE Act, however, now requires institutions to also advise students of their right to notify and seek assistance from law enforcement and campus authorities. Colleges and universities must additionally provide victims with information regarding available judicial remedies and the institution's responsibilities in accommodating such remedies. Finally, institutions must implement certain standards for the investigation and conduct of student discipline proceedings.
A key feature of the SaVE Act is the requirement to develop and implement awareness and prevention programs addressing dating violence, domestic violence, stalking and other forms of sexual harassment and assault. Colleges and universities should provide primary training on these issues to all new students and employees, with ongoing prevention and awareness programs available for all students and faculty.
Although regulatory guidance for the SaVE Act is not expected until November 2014, colleges and universities need to take action now to stay up to date on the new campus security laws. Institutions should review all applicable policies and education and training programs, and ensure all relevant campus parties understand their reporting responsibilities.