Agency Expands Stats to Reduce Sex Crimes

     WASHINGTON (CN) - To curb dating violence, stalking and domestic violence on college campuses, the Department of Education has proposed rules expanding crime reporting. The department expects the additional data to instruct colleges on how to proceed with campus policy and procedure changes.
     The rules would implement changes the 2013 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) made to the Higher Education Act campus security provisions, known as the Clery Act.
     The Clery Act was named after 19-year-old Jeanne Clery, who was raped and killed by a fellow student in her college dorm in 1986.
     The Clery Act requires colleges to provide new students and employees with campus-wide statistics on sexual assault, and a description of the college's sexual assault prevention programs and the procedures the college will follow once a sex offense has occurred.
     Changes to the act require colleges to add statistics for incidents of dating violence, domestic violence and stalking, which the new rules would do. The proposed rules include cyberstalking and online humiliation in the definition of "stalking."
     "Gender identity" and "national origin" would also be added to the list of hate crimes for which a college must also compile statistics, according to the proposal.
     In the sexual assault prevention programs a college would have to include information about: consent as it relates to sexual activities, its policies involving sexual assault investigations, and information about bystander intervention, the proposal states.
     Colleges also would have to provide "a prompt, fair, and impartial disciplinary proceeding" where both the accuser and accused have equal opportunities to have an advisor present and receive simultaneous notice of the results of the investigation, according to the proposal.
     Because the Clery Act does not require colleges to use specific materials for prevention and awareness programs, the committee creating the proposed regulation emphasized that colleges should use practices shown through research and assessment to be effective. In response, the department expects to issue a guidance document containing these practices, after the final version of the regulation is issued.
     "The department has the responsibility to ensure that our higher education institutions are creating safe environments for students and are appropriately reporting crimes that emphasized that occur on or near their campuses," U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a related statement. "These new rules [would] strengthen schools' capacity to provide safer college campuses for students and to keep everyone better informed about campus security policies and procedures."
     The department seeks comments on the proposed regulation, particularly on stalking incidents, and whether colleges should collect information about the relationship between a perpetrator and a victim. "Stalking" would include cyberstalking and online humiliation.
     Comments on the proposed regulation are due by July 21. The department plans to issue the final regulation in November.