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Department of Ed Looking to Update Sexual Assault Reporting, Disciplinary Hearings on Campuses

The U.S. Department of Education endorsed a proposal on April 1 that would require colleges to expand their reporting of campus crimes, publish more information on disciplinary hearings processes, and host sexual assault prevention programs. The proposal, which was drafted by a 15-person negotiated rulemaking committee, would implement the changes made by Congress last year as part of the reauthorization of the Violence against Women Act (VAWA).

The proposal would add several crimes, including domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking to the list of incidents colleges are required to report and include in their annual crime statistics. Crimes against individuals because of their national origin or gender identity would be added as two new categories of hate crimes and would also have to be reported.

Colleges would be required to create awareness campaigns to prevent dating and/or domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking and would have to implement certain processes when conducting disciplinary proceedings regarding the same. The draft would allow for discretion among colleges to determine an appropriate time frame for such proceedings, but Congress mandated that these proceedings would be “prompt, fair, and impartial.” Institutions would have to have “good cause” to delay the proceedings.

Because the committee reached a consensus on the draft, the Department is now required to push the proposal through the regulatory rulemaking process. The proposal is expected to be released in the coming months. A final rule would have to be published by November 1 if the department wants the regulation in place by the 2015-2016 school year. 

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Comments

Thank you for sharing this information, it continues to amaze me that it is 2014 and we are still asking campuses to report on sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence on campuses. Also that there be prevention programs made avaliable to students. In 2004 at my job we received a VAWA grant to engage in some creative work concerning DV survivors and their pets.  This was a city wide project and involved students from local colleges and universities.  I was amazed at the lack of education the students actually received on their campus. 

I am wary of timelines that are not specific, "timely fashion, fair and impartial" have not proven successful to date, although there is clearly much more awareness we continue to have a great deal to do to expand the outreach on campuses across the country to deal with violence against women.  

Denise,

I really enjoyed reading your response to this topic. I agree and argue with regards to this topic. It is great that your job engaged in a project like they did. The most interesting part about this is campuses are still being asked to report on inappropriate behavior or misconduct on their campus. I myself wonder if victims should report any inappropriate behavior directly to the police instead of relying on the campus. What are your thoughts?

Deborah, Thanks for taking time to read the blog.  I think that sadly women are caught in the poverbial Catch 22. Report, don't report, report to campus police, report to city police.  The problem is no matter where women report they are still today not listened to, not respected, their motivations are questioned. Just today I read where a young woman reported her rape at Tuft's University and ended up leaving the school because she could not get the help she needed.  The impact of sexual assault is oftentimes life long and does not "just go away" like people around survivors wish it would.  In part they want it to go away because it impacts their relationship with the survivors.  Prosecutions are sorely lacking and victims often see their offenders over and over again and are "helpless" to do anything.

Sadly I do not have much faith in police departments in general, but continuie to hold out hope that changes will continue that will ultimately provide reasonable and responsive services to survivors. 

Denise Youngsteadt-Parrish 

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