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Reminder to colleges: uphold the law or risk penalties

Posted in Sexual Abuse on Wednesday, September 2, 2015.

Whether you’ve heard about a rape or sexual assault case taking place on a college campus from a news source or from one of our blog posts, chances are good you’ve been just as appalled by the cases as we have. As you may have noticed, the number of sexual assault cases that have piqued national attention in recent years has risen, forcing people across the nation – not just here in Pennsylvania – to question whether the law and campuses are doing enough to protect students from sexual assault and rape.

As many have been quick to point out, the answer is no. Some argue that existing legislation doesn’t do enough to protect students, which is why amendments were made recently to the Clery Act, which gave rise to the Campus SaVE Act. With college students returning to campuses all over the country, we thought it was a good time to bring up the Act and to point out that colleges who fail to comply with its requirements can face serious consequences.

As some of our Philadelphia readers know, the Campus SaVE Act extends and clarifies legislation that requires colleges and universities to report instances of sexual assault, rape and dating violence. The Act also requires universities and colleges to adopt policies that address and prevent sexual violence on campus as well as notify victims of their rights after an encounter. Above all else though, policies must take proper disciplinary actions against offenders, providing proper notification to offenders and victims alike.

As you can imagine, total compliance is required. Failing to do so can be costly for campuses, which could face fines as high as $35,000 per violation. Colleges could also lose their eligibility for federal student aid programs in addition to fines.

It’s important to point out though that fines brought by the Department of Education’s Clery Act Compliance Division are not the only penalties a college could face after failing to comply with the Campus SaVE Act. Victims still have the right to file civil claims after instances of rape or sexual assault, meaning a college may be liable for compensation if they are found guilty of violating the law.

Sources: The Campus SaVE Act, “FAQ,” Accessed Sept. 2, 2015

The American Council on Education, “New Requirements Imposed by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act,” Accessed Sept. 2, 2015