A culture change is sweeping across college campuses, with students more willing to speak up about sexual assaults, as in the case of the Spelman student who reported recently she was raped by students at neighboring Morehouse.
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Colleges and the law
Different federal laws require colleges to follow specific procedures in response to sexual assaults and hostility on campus. Here is a brief summary:
Clery Act. This federal law requires colleges to report serious criminal allegations to the U.S. Department of Education. Colleges also must keep thorough and public criminal records. Colleges are not required to report the allegations to the police. Since signed into law in 1990, many colleges ignored the rules or intentionally reported low numbers. However, the federal government has increased its oversight in recent years. For example, Eastern Michigan University was fined $357,500 in 2008.
Title IX. This law is most often associated with sports, but it goes far beyond that. In 1972, Title IX of the Education Amendments prohibited sex-based discrimination in schools. In 2011, the federal government clarified the standards and provided specific guidelines for how colleges must address reports of sexual misconduct.
Violence Against Women Act. The newly reauthorized law includes a provision that will require colleges to report instances of dating violence and stalking in addition to what they already reported under the Clery Act. Colleges must improve how they notify victims of their legal rights and keep campuswide policies for addressing and preventing sexual assault.