The U.S. Education Department has released new draft rules for how colleges must handle campus sexual assault cases and some other crimes. It's part of an ongoing effort from the Obama administration to make less of a mess of the "campus rape crisis."
Released yesterday, the proposed rules are part of efforts to implement the 2013 Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, an update on the Jeanne Clery Act of 1990. The Clery act established for the first time that colleges must disclose information about crime on campus if they want to participate in federal student financial aid programs.
The other key law is Title IX, which bans sex discrimination and requires action on sexual violence and harassment because they interfere with victims' access to equal education. The Education Department has taken a number of steps in recent years to strengthen those aspects of Title IX.
The new Clery Act rules are open for public comment until July 21, with final rules scheduled for Nov. 1. Here are some of their key components:
- Require colleges and universities to report annual statistics on dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, in addition to sexual assault.
- Define sexual assault as "an offense that meets the definition of rape, fondling, incest, or statutory rape."
- Change the definition of "rape" to match the FBI's current definition, so it now will include sodomy and sexual assault with an object.
- Define "hate crime" to mean a crime "that manifests evidence that the victim was intentionally selected because of the perpetrator's bias" against the victim based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability status and, now, gender identity or national origin.
- Provide domestic violence and sexual assault complainants with a written explanation of their rights and options.
- Establish "comprehensive, intentional, and integrated programming, initiatives, strategies, and campaigns intended to end dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking that are culturally relevant, inclusive of diverse communities and identities, sustainable, responsive to community needs, and informed by research or assessed for value, effectiveness, or outcome."
- Require colleges to submit an annual report on their procedures for institutional disciplinary action in cases of alleged dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
For the most part, it seems like the Education Department is merely setting up additional hoops for schools to jump through, with a few possibly more significant changes. The department declined to weigh in on the meaning of sexual consent, as "several negotiators strongly urged." Though earlier draft regulations had included language similar to those currently being considered in California, the agency has since removed it.