U.S. Senate Stands Poised To Extend The Violence Against Women Act's Protections To College And University Campuses

Ann McClure's picture

The United States Senate is expected to vote soon on reauthorizing the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which enjoys the support of 61 senators, possibly before the end of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). This measure will extend many important programs, and for the first time specifically extend VAWA's protections to all college and university campus communities. I look forward to the Senate's prompt action and call on them to pass this much-needed measure as soon as possible.

As I have previously written, sexual violence -- including dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, as well as sexual assault -- are major challenges for American higher education today. These challenges diminish the impact of the federal taxpayer investment of more than $40 billion annually in higher education and warrant steps being taken to better protect that investment.

Recognizing these challenges, over the last two years the nation's leading advocates for responding to and most importantly preventing these scourges came together to develop a blueprint to help higher education best tackle them. That blueprint became the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (Campus SaVE Act or SaVE) and picked up significant bipartisan support in Congress, which led to U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) incorporating it into the VAWA reauthorization.

The Campus SaVE Act, as included in VAWA, will modernize 20-year-old provisions of the federal Jeanne Clery Act to reflect the lessons learned over the years in dealing with sexual violence on campus, and specifically expand the scope of offenses covered to include dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. These guidelines will provide colleges and universities with a much-needed baseline on how to respond to and prevent these serious crimes. It will also provide them with assistance from the U.S. Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services in doing so.

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