Wilkes-Barre, PA- With students preparing to come back to campus, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) detailed new campus sexual assault protections coming to college campuses for the first time this fall. At Wilkes University, Casey was joined by school administrators and victims’ counselors to discuss the challenge of sexual assaults on college campuses and detail the new protections. Casey’s law, the Campus SaVE Act, is responsible for these new protections. Passed during the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the law will be in effect for the first time this school year. The Campus SaVE Act requires uniform reporting standards for sexual assaults on college campuses and requires schools to provide clear guidelines to students on their sexual assault policies. The new law also emphasizes steps schools can take to educate students and help prevent sexual assault.
“Sexual assaults on our campuses are a serious issue and action is needed. Those who commit sexual assault must be held accountable, and those who stand by and do nothing must realize that silence isn’t an option,” Senator Casey said. “The Campus SaVE Act will improve how campus communities respond to sexual, domestic, dating violence and stalking. It will empower students and employees to end unhealthy relationships and seek assistance.”
The Campus SaVE Act, which became law as Section 304 of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), closes a serious gap in the law by requiring colleges and universities to clearly spell out their policies regarding sexual assault and intimate partner violence. The Campus SaVE Act will also increase awareness and prevention of these acts of violence by requiring transparency of information, prevention programs, assistance for victims and clear institutional judicial proceedings to promote accountability.
The bill amends Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require each institution of higher education participating in a title IV program, except foreign schools, to:
- Include in its annual security report a statement of policy regarding its domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking awareness and prevention programs and the procedures it follows when such an offense occurs.
- Explain in writing students’ rights anytime a student reports being a victim of sexual violence, including stalking, dating or domestic violence. This would include a victim’s right to notify law enforcement if the victim chooses, to receive help from the school to report the incident, to seek a protective order from a local court, and to change residence, class schedule and travel arrangements as necessary to preserve the victim’s safety.
- Explain to students the school’s obligation to help enforce those protective orders.
- Start teaching bystander education – a prevention strategy that focuses on teaching male and female students alike that they can prevent sexual assaults and that they have a responsibility to do so.
- Direct the Secretary of Education to seek the Attorney General's counsel regarding the development, and dissemination to schools, of best practices for preventing and responding to sex offenses and other forms of intimate partner violence.
The Campus SaVE Act has been endorsed by the following organizations
- American Association of University Women (AAUW)
- Asian Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence
- Clery Center for Security On Campus
- Break the Cycle
- Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network
- Feminist Majority
- Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund)
- General Federation of Women’s Clubs
- Jewish Women International
- Legal Momentum
- Men Can Stop Rape
- National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
- National Center for Victims of Crime
- National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
- National Council of Jewish Women
- National Dating Abuse Helpline
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty
- National Legal Aid & Defender Association
- National Network to End Domestic Violence
- National Organization for Women
- National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
- One Love Foundation
- Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape
- Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
- Women’s Law Project
- VTV Family Outreach Foundation
- Women of Color Network
- YWCA USA