Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a landmark piece of federal legislation that sought to improve the criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the United States. The passage of VAWA in 1994, and its reauthorization in 2000, 2005, and again in 2013 has changed the landscape for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

To accompany the legislation, on October 20th, 2014, the United States Department of Education published the final regulations for the Violence Against Women Act amendments to the Clery Act which afford additional rights campus victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.  The regulations will require campuses to take many steps to ensure compliance in Title IX and Clery compliance arenas by the July 1, 2015 due date, including updating Student Codes and Handbooks, training all students and staff, and instituting campus climate checks.  The most recent reauthorization of VAWA and its regulations amend the Clery Act.  This VAWA page, seperate from the Clery Compliance and Title IX Compliance webpages, is meant page to clarify these new requirements.

The SUNY Office of General Counsel has prepared a guidance document that details the Policy and Programming Changes Pursuant to the Campus SaVE Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act.  The guidance includes information on complying with the Violence Against Women Act and the SUNY-created model policies for complying with Campus SaVE Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act.


Compliance Update

New Clery Handbook for 2016
On June 23, the Department of Education issued a new Clery Act Handbook. The Handbook contains new content following upon the 2013 Violence Against Women Act amendments and a number of significant changes to interpretations of the most recent 2011 Handbook. In this webinar, three veteran Clery/Title IX/VAWA attorneys from a law firm, a private college and a public college will cover the changes in plain language, discuss some of the practical difficulties in implementation and describe systems that may make implementation more efficient, and point out resources any college or university can access to aid in compliance. There will be two sessions to allow for scheduling conflicts. Sessions will not be recorded so as to encourage questions (and there will be plenty of time for questions). And best of all, both sessions are completely free (and just require brief registration to use the software).

Go to the SUNY webpage announcing the trainings to sign up.

Laws and Regulations

Federal Law

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, PUBLIC LAW 113–4—MAR. 7, 2013.

New York State Law

New York State Article 129-B, Implementation by Colleges and Universities of sexual Assault, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, and Stalking Prevention and Response Policies and Procedures, “Enough is Enough," passed July 7, 2015.  
New law establishes new requirements for New York State Colleges’ and Universities’ responses to reports of sexual misconduct.  Deadline for compliance with "Enough is Enough" law for SUNY and all New York higher education institutions is October 5th, 90 days after the law was passed.

New York State Regulations

Violence Against Women Act Final Regulations, 79 FR 62751, October 10, 2014, published on the Federal Register.  Effective July 1, 2015.

SUNY Resources

Policy and Programming Changes Pursuant to the Campus SaVE Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act
This comprehensive Guidance Document written by the Office of General Counsel State University of New York represents a team effort of members of the State University of New York Office of General Counsel, alongside partner organizations, to create guidance that SUNY colleges can use to prepare for the changes required by the 2013 amendments to the Violence Against Women Act and its regulations. The Department of Education released a letter detailing expectations for colleges to make a “good faith effort” to comply with these changes.   The document includes information on complying with the Violence Against Women Act and the SUNY-created model policies for complying with Campus SaVE Provisions of the Violence Against Women Act.

SUNY Sexual Assault & Violence Resources (SAVR)
SUNY released a custom “Sexual Assault & Violence Resources (SAVR)” web-based tool to support victims to support victims of sexual assault or interpersonal violence, whether the victim attends a SUNY school or lives in any one of New York State’s communities.  Both tools can be customized for use by states and colleges nationally at no cost; and they can be found easily by typing “SUNY SAVR” or any combination of “SUNY Sexual Assault & Violence Resources” into the Google search engine.

SUNY Sexual Violence Prevention Workgroup webpage, created by a Resolution requested by Governor Cuomo and passed at a SUNY Board of Trustees meeting  which created the SUNY Policies on Sexual Violence Prevention and Response.

Model MOU between a New York State college and a Rape Crisis Center, Negotiated and finalized by SUNY, the NYS Department of Health, NYSCASA and the NYC Alliance.
URL: http://system.suny.edu/sexual-violence-prevention-workgroup/mou-model/.

SUNY University Life webpage on Sexual Assault Prevention Resources

VAWA Customizable Visa and Immigration Resource
This resource, a collaborative effort of attorneys and professionals from institutions across the country, is a plain language explanation of visa and immigration options for students who are victims or survivors of sexual or interpersonal violence. The resource is available to SUNY institutions and higher education institutions throughout the country.  The resource web site includes two methods for customizing the document with automatic translation into all available languages.  Institutions may use the Excel form/spreadsheet or the Google Docs method.  Step-by-step instructions are included on the web site.

A 2014 Voluntary Resolution Agreement between SUNY and the Office for Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education also outlines requirements that SUNY campuses must adhere to for purposes of compliance with Title IX, which are codified in the new System-wide Policies on Sexual Violence Prevention and Response.

Distilling the April 29, 2014 OCR Questions & Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence, prepared by Associate Counsel Andrea Stagg
Summary guidance document of the Department of Education’s April 29, 2014 guidance -  highlights the key points of each question and answer.

SUNY Compliance Website Related pages: NYS Ed. Law Article 129-A and 129-B CertificationTitle IX , Clery Act , Campus Crime Reporting Law.

References to Best Practices and Other Supplemental Material

The Campus SaVE Act: A Compliance Guide, prepared by the United Educators.

Risk Management Considerations Regarding the Clery Act, Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and Title IX When Students Study Abroad, University Risk Management and Insurance Association, Government and Regulatory Affairs, January 2016.

National Resources

NotAlone.gov
A federal government website that contains information for students, schools, and anyone interested in finding resources on how to respond to and prevent sexual assault on college and university campuses and in our schools. The website will help you to find a crisis service, learn more about your rights and how to file a complaint, and view a map of resolved school-level enforcement activities.

The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault
On April 29, 2014, The White House Task Force To Protect Students From Sexual Assault issued its a report titled “The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault”. The report recommended four action steps for institutions:

  1. Identify the scope of the problem on college campuses;
  2. Help prevent campus sexual assault;
  3. Help schools respond effectively when a student is assaulted; andUpdate
  4. Improve, and make more transparent, the federal government’s enforcement efforts.

The Report includes policy recommendations and resources to help institutions with next steps.

Simultaneous to the Task Force Report, The United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights issued a 52-point guidance document to further clarify the obligations imposed by the April 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and OCR’s 2001 guidance. The OCR guidance document, titled “OCR Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence.” Some topics covered in the document include procedural requirements, reporting, confidentiality, investigations, and trainings.

State Resources

New York State Enough is Enough Website with Information and Hotline
The New York State website includes information on the new Enough is Enough Article 129-B law and related information.  
The website also includes information on a Hotline for immediate help:

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The information contained on the SUNY Compliance website is for general campus guidance only and is not intended, nor can be relied upon, as legal advice or the imposition on SUNY campuses of specific policies or requirements. The site is intended to be an informational-only clearinghouse for some of the laws, rules, and regulations that may impact the State University of New York’s campuses. Additionally, given the rapid, changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, there may be delays or omissions contained on this site which therefore cannot be relied upon as complete. For complete compliance information, consult your campus compliance officials. For legal advice, consult your lawyer.

Compliance