U.S. Department of Education Announces Action to Help Colleges Keep Campuses Safe

Archived Information

U.S. Department of Education Announces Action to Help Colleges Keep Campuses Safe

June 19, 2014

The Obama Administration today announced new steps to address growing concerns about sexual violence on college campuses by requiring institutions of higher education to comply with new campus safety and security related requirements aimed at curbing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

The proposed rule, which will be formally published in tomorrow’s Federal Register, would implement changes to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 signed by President Obama in March of last year.

“The Department has the responsibility to ensure that our higher education institutions are creating safe environments for students and are appropriately reporting crimes that occur on or near their campuses,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “These new rules strengthen schools’ capacity to provide safer college campuses for students and to keep everyone better informed about campus security policies and procedures.”

Following several negotiation sessions, a rulemaking panel comprised of students who were survivors of sexual assault as well as representatives from advocacy organizations, law enforcement, colleges and other groups, reached consensus on a draft of the new campus safety provisions announced today.

Under the proposed regulations, colleges would be required to compile statistics for incidents of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, in addition to the currently compiled statistics for sexual assaults and certain other crimes. These data will provide a better picture of the extent to which these forms of abuse occur on our campuses and will better equip colleges, advocates, and policymakers to address these issues.

Other notable changes include:

  • Adding gender identity and national origin as categories of bias under the Clery Act’s definition of hate crimes;
  • Adopting the FBI’s revised, more inclusive definition of rape;
  • Requiring institutions to ensure that their disciplinary proceedings in response to alleged incidents of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are prompt, fair, and impartial;
  • Strengthening protections for victim confidentiality while helping victims to access the support, services, and the disciplinary and legal options available to them; and
  • Specifying requirements for programs to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, including prevention and awareness programs and campaigns.

Combined with institutions’ existing obligations under Title IX, which the Violence Against Women Act left untouched, these regulatory changes provide new tools to improve campus safety.

The language agreed upon by the committee is reflected in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The public is invited to comment on the proposed regulations until July 21. After consideration of public comment, the final regulations will be published by November 1.