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By Catherine Johnson, Lead Product Manager

In recent months, high-profile stories in the news—including controversial reports about an alleged rape at a fraternity house--have prompted Congress and Administration officials to take a closer look at the problem of violence against women at institutions of higher education (IHEs).

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the enactment of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act of 1990. The Clery Act was named after Jeanne Clery who was brutally raped and murdered in her campus dorm room when she was a 19-year-old freshman at Lehigh University in 1986.

Following their daughter’s death, Connie and Howard Clery launched a crusade that eventually led to the enactment of the Clery Law, which requires IHEs to disclose to the community and report to the Department of Education crimes that occur on or near campus. The purpose of the law is to allow enrolled and prospective students and their parents to make more informed decisions about which schools the students should to attend, where they should live, and how to best protect themselves.  Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is another Federal law that addresses the problem of campus violence, but unlike the Clery Act, Title IX provides the Federal Government with no authority to impose civil penalties.

Over the years, concerns have been raised periodically about the effectiveness of Federal laws in addressing campus crime.  In 1996, Connie Clery testified at a House of Representatives hearing that, although the Clery Act had improved security at many campuses, “far too many campuses are not expelling students using illegal drugs, not enforcing State’s underage drinking laws, not even reporting rape and sexual assault cases, and the names of students charged with these crimes to the potentially endangered campus community.”

In 2006, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing in Philadelphia to examine concerns that the Clery Act was not being adequately enforced, in light of a Philadelphia Enquirer news story on alleged underreporting of campus crime by certain colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area. At that hearing Senator Arlen Spector of Pennsylvania noted that the Education Department had imposed only three civil penalties in the law’s 20-year history, The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization Act of 2013, which incorporated provisions of the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (Campus SaVE) Act, included amendments to the Clery Act.

On Oct. 17, 2014, the day that the Obama Administration announced the final Campus SaVE Act rules, Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York stated on her blog:

“With one in five women sexually assaulted in college, it’s clear that we have a major problem that needs to be addressed. Now that the Campus SaVE Act rulemaking process has concluded, the improvements to the Clery will soon take effect. This is a major step forward in the effort to curb the outrageously high rate of sexual assaults on college campuses. Schools will now be required to describe in detail the prevalence of sexual assault among their student populations. Schools will be required to declare what programs are in place to prevent and address dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. The rules will strengthen protections for survivors of sexual assault.”

But there is still more to be done. On Feb 2, 2015, Senators Tim Kaine of Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri introduced the Teach Safe Relationships Act of 2015, which seeks to improve health education in public secondary schools by including information on safe relationship behavior. On his weblog, Senator Kaine said that the bill focuses on preventing sexual assault, domestic violence, and dating violence. The idea for this legislation came out of a recent meeting at the University of Virginia between Senator Kaine members of One Less, a group that advocates for survivors of rape and sexual assault, to listen to students’ recommendations for preventing campus sexual assault.

Librarians: Learn more and sign up for free trials of ProQuest Congressional basic subscription, ProQuest Congressional Research Digital Collection, ProQuest Congressional Hearings Digital Collection, and other ProQuest resources.  

[Image source: Sexual Violence at Institutions of Higher Education, CRS report, October 23, 2014, Congressional Research Digital Collection]


-- History of the Clery Act: Fact Sheet, CRS report, October 20, 2014, Congressional Research Digital Collection
-- Sexual Violence at Institutions of Higher Education, CRS report, October 23, 2014, Congressional Research Digital Collection
-- Hearing on Campus Crime and H.R. 2416, To Amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 To Require Open Campus Security Crime Logs at Institutions of Higher Learning, House Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities, Jun. 6, 1996, Congressional Hearings Digital Collection
-- Campus Crime: Compliance and Enforcement Under the Clery Act, Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing, May 19, 2006, Congressional Hearings Digital Collection
-- Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act Rules Announced, Representative Carolyn Maloney weblog October 17, 2014, ProQuest Congressional Basic Subscription
-- Kaine & McCaskill Introduce Education Bill To Help Prevent Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Senator Timothy Kaine, February 03, 2015

09 Mar 2015

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