September 26, 2014

Kaine Sends Letter To Education Secretary In Support Of Proposed Rule To Combat On-Campus Sexual Violence

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in support of a recently proposed rule aimed at combatting sexual violence on college and university campuses.

The proposed rule on the implementation of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) would require colleges and universities to publish more robust information on incidents in an annual report, as well as clarify that reported incidents should include occurrences of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. In addition to updating the definition of “rape” to align with the FBI’s own updated definition, the new rule would require institutions to have ongoing programs and awareness campaigns on sexual abuse. Finally, the rule seeks the assurance of fair and prompt disciplinary proceedings that include due process with properly-trained officials, free from any conflicts of interest.

“To effectively curb incidents of sexual violence, we must ensure that universities have the capacity to create safe and open learning environments for their students,” wrote Kaine. “I am hopeful that these provisions will not only strengthen existing provisions working to combat sexual violence in our universities, but that they will encourage victims to report incidents of sexual violence on campus.”

Kaine’s letter also requested that institutions that fall under the jurisdiction of these changes receive proper outreach and technical assistance to comply with the proposed rule’s requirements.

Full text of the letter below

September 23, 2014

The Honorable Arne Duncan

Secretary of Education

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Ave, SW

Washington, DC 20202

Dear Secretary Duncan:

I write in response to the recently-proposed rule on the implementation of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, which amended the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.

The proposed rule would require institutions to maintain statistics about the number of incidents of sexual violence, to publish more robust information on incidents in an annual report, and to have ongoing programs and awareness campaigns on sexual abuse.  It would also update the definition of “rape” to align with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) recently updated definition, and would clarify the way that new incidents should be defined, adding domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking to the incidents that should be reported.  Finally, it seeks the assurance of a fair and prompt disciplinary proceeding that includes due process with properly-trained officials, free from any conflicts of interest.

To effectively curb incidents of sexual violence, we must ensure that universities have the capacity to create safe and open learning environments for their students.  For that reason, I sincerely appreciate the time and effort the Department has invested in developing these new requirements.

I do believe it is important that the Department’s reporting requirements and communications, including ‘Dear Colleague’ letters and subsequent regulations, are appropriately aligned.  Additionally, I request that all institutions of higher education that fall under these provisions receive proper outreach and technical assistance to comply with the requirements.

I am hopeful that these provisions will not only strengthen existing provisions working to combat sexual violence in our universities, but that they will encourage victims to report incidents of sexual violence on campus.  These policies are time sensitive and I encourage swift finalization of the proposed rule.

 

Sincerely,

Tim Kaine

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