Complying With The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act Of 2013

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During the consumer information session at the NASFAA Conference in Nashville, a Department of Education (ED) presenter reminded attendees that schools are expected to make a good faith effort to comply with the changes the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) made to the Clery Act for their 2014 annual campus security report. (See the Electronic Announcement posted to the Information for Financial Aid Professionals website on May 29, 2013.) 

The Clery Act requires institutions participating in the Title IV programs to disclose campus crime statistics and security information and provides the basis of the institutional security policies and crime statistics regulations found at 34 CFR 668.46. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) detailing the proposed regulatory changes was published in the Federal Register June 20, 2014.

Summary of VAWA Changes  

Adds and defines the following terms:

  • Clery Geography;
  • Dating violence;
  • Domestic violence;
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program;
  • Hate crime;
  • Hierarchy Rule;
  • Programs to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking;
  • Sexual assault; and 
  • Stalking.

VAWA also added a number of elements that schools should include in their annual security report. They include modifications to campus law enforcement policies, addressing polices to encourage the prompt reporting of all crimes to appropriate agencies when a victim is unable or does not make a report, how an institution will complete publically available recordkeeping requirements without including identifying information about victims, how an institution will maintain as confidential any accommodations or protective measures provided to a victim, the provision of written notification to students and employees of certain available services, the provision of written notification to victims of the availability of certain accommodations, and notification that when a student or employee reports being the victim of certain crimes, the institution will provide the individual with an explanation of his or her rights and options. Schools also have to include a statement of policy regarding primary prevention and awareness programs related to dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking targeted to new students and employees as well as describing ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns for these crimes.

Additional proposed modifications to the regulations include:

  • Requiring schools to maintain and report statistics for additional crimes;
  • Revising various definitions found in Appendix A to the consumer information regulations;
  • Emphasize that for reporting purposes schools must include all crimes reported to a campus security authority;
  • Clarifies schools cannot withhold or remove a crime from its statistics based on the actions of certain parties such as juries; and 
  • Specifying that reporting requirements do not mean schools have to initiate an investigation or disclose identifying information about a victim.

The proposed rule also revises the categories of bias for reporting hate crimes to add gender identity and to separate ethnicity and national origin into individual categories. For the added crime of stalking, the proposed regulations specify how institutions should report incidents. The revised regulations also make an exception to the Hierarchy Rule for sex offenses. The new regulations would also require schools to withhold names and other identifying information of victims from their timely warnings.

Additionally, the proposed rule requires institutions to implement educational programs to promote awareness of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Schools must also implement disciplinary procedures to address these incidents, list all possible sanctions, and meet specified standards to ensure such proceedings are prompt, fair, and impartial. Finally, the revised regulations would prohibit the institution or its representatives from retaliating against an individual who exercises his or her rights or responsibilities under the Clery Act.

The public comment period for the NPRM is open through July 21. NASFAA encourages members to submit comments electronically using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov. When submitting comments, include the NPRM’s Docket ID, which is ED–2013–OPE–0124. Please share comments with NASFAA at policy@nasfaa.org  

 

Publication Date: 7/16/2014


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