The Department of Education (ED) panel working on draft regulations for the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act), part of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act signed into law in March 2013, reached consensus on proposed language yesterday in the last of its three negotiated rulemaking sessions.
The SaVE Act provision expands the information colleges must incorporate into their annual crime reports to include acts of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, which “includes, but is not limited to, sexual or physical abuse or the threat of such abuse,” according to the final draft agreed upon by negotiators.
Among the revisions to ED’s working draft was the language dealing with victim confidentiality. Changes were made to address concerns that institutions would have to violate one requirement or another in certain situations. For example, if an institution moved an accused out of a dorm as a protective measure, confidentiality would necessarily be broken.
The amended language acknowledges that conflicts can arise between keeping a victim’s information confidential and complying with the requirements to provide protective measures and to make crime information publicly available, and gives institutions the flexibility to ensure that protective measures are a priority.
Regarding the mandate for “prompt, fair, and impartial proceeding,” negotiators agreed that proceedings must be “completed within reasonably prompt timeframes designated by an institution’s policy, including a process that allows for the extension of timeframes for good cause with notice to the accuser and the accused of the delay.” The original language did not allow for institutions to alter the timeframe designated in their policy. This revision provides flexibility for institutions and takes into account the realities of conducting investigations.
ED established a strong policy stance regarding advisors in disciplinary proceedings by mandating that institutions cannot limit the choice or presence of advisors. Institutional counsels strongly opposed this provision as it would effectively remove private institutions’ ability to determine who has access to their campus if either the victim or accused opt to have an off-campus individual attend meetings.
ED will publish the draft rule in the Federal Register likely before the end of the month, after which there will be a 45-day comment period. Final regulations are expected to be published before Nov. 1.