WASHINGTON, DC – A bill introduced by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) to combat the problem of sexual violence on college campuses has been included in the reauthorization of the signature law to combat domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
“My legislation is an essential fix to a serious gap in the law that prevents campuses from being as safe as they could be for our students,” said Senator Casey. “I will fight to pass this legislation to ensure all students have the opportunity to learn in a safe environment and to support critical programs that combat domestic abuse and sexual assault.”
Senator Casey’s Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act), which he introduces earlier this year, has been incorporated into the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2011. VAWA supports programs that have dramatically improved the national response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, which are serious problems on college campuses. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 20 to 25 percent of female undergraduates will be the victim of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault this year and in nearly all cases it will be by an acquaintance.
Senator Casey’s legislation will close a gap in the law by requiring colleges and universities to clearly spell out their policies regarding sexual assault and intimate partner violence. The provision 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.
Senator Casey’s legislation 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 victims’ rights anytime a student or member of the campus community 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.