CAPPS - Avocacy and Communication Professional Development

California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools

Proposed Federal Rules Would Raise Oversight of Campus Sexual Assault

06/20/2014

The Chronicle of Higher Education. June 19, 2014.

In the latest federal move regarding campus sexual assault, the Department of Education released on Thursday a set of proposed rules that would require colleges to provide prevention programs to students and employees, covering not only sexual assault but also dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, incidents of which campuses would now have to track.

The proposed regulations—under the Violence Against Women Act, which was renewedby Congress last year—would amend the campus-crime-reporting law known as the Clery Act. They are slated to be published in Friday’s Federal Register. Among other provisions, the rules would require colleges to “ensure that their disciplinary proceedings in response to alleged incidents … are prompt, fair, and impartial,” the Education Department said in a written statement. The department is now investigating more than 60 colleges for possible violations of gender-equity law involving alleged sexual misconduct, and it has recently found some campus responses to be neither prompt nor equitable.

In drafting the new rules this spring, federally appointed negotiators debated whether colleges should be required to let students use lawyers in campus disciplinary proceedings. The consensus favored that provision, with the caveat that colleges could control, equally, the extent of advisers’ participation on behalf of the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator.

The new rules come as colleges are grappling with their legal responsibility to investigate and respond to students’ reports of sexual assault, under pressure from activists as well asthe White House. The rules are open for public comment until July 21, and the department expects to publish final regulations by November.