New rules that change what colleges have to do under the Clery Act were published Monday. The new regulations — the result of months of discussions and negotiations following the 2013 passage of the federal Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act — are designed to lend greater transparency to the process by which colleges respond to crimes of sexual violence affecting students.
Here’s the new information you’ll have access to under the regulations:
- Statistics on dating and domestic violence, as well as stalking. These three types of incidents join the list of Clery-reportable crimes that must be reported in colleges’ annual security reports and to the Department of Education.
- Statistics on how many reported crimes were ultimately “unfounded.” Colleges are not required to report incidents if a law enforcement agency determines the report was false or “unfounded.” Based on concerns that colleges were incorrectly “unfounding” reports, the new regulations require colleges to disclose in their annual security reports, and to the Department of Education, just how many reports have been “unfounded.”
- Statistics on the number of crimes motivated by gender identity or national origin. These two categories have been added to the list of biases in the hate crime reporting section.
- A list of sanctions the college may impose following a disciplinary hearing for dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. Until now, the Department’s Clery handbook advised colleges to make this information public in the annual security reports, but it was not required under the regulations. This list is now a requirement in the annual report. (Colleges have been criticized for punishing sexual assaults with penalties as light as a brief suspension or an apologetic essay.)
- Policy statements that explain, among other things, the options available to victims of sexual violence with regard to reporting the incident to law enforcement or the college, as well as protective measures, counseling options and health services. Colleges must also provide policy statements that explain their efforts to prevent sexual violence.
The new regulations go into effect July 1, 2015. However, the statutory provisions are already in effect, and the Department of Education has instructed colleges to make a “good faith effort” to comply right away.
A good story idea for student journalists is to ask colleges how they are complying with the new law and how they will incorporate the new regulations. (A look at the #SaVEOurCampuses hashtag turns up many complaints about colleges failing to disclose statistics about stalking, dating violence or domestic violence.)
To see all of the changes, read the final regulations.