Yale to face new mandates under Clery Act

Starting in summer 2015, Yale will be required to comply with new federal regulations regarding sexual violence on college campuses.

On Tuesday evening, a group of negotiators in Washington created a new set of rules under the Clery Act, the federal regulation that requires colleges and universities to maintain and disclose information about crime on or near their campuses. Stipulated by the recent reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, the negotiation session resulted in new rules that expand reporting requirements, training session requirements and the rights of people both accused of sexual violence and accusing others of sexual violence.

“This is the single most fundamental rewrite of the federal guidelines on dealing with campus sexual violence in 20 years,” said S. Daniel Carter, one of the negotiators. “The last time the guidelines were issued was 1994.”

Janet Lindner, the University Associate Vice President for Administration, said Yale will comply with all new Clery Act requirements, including the newly mandated training for students. She added that the University’s next annual security and fire safety report — sent to faculty, students, staff and the Department of Education — is due in October and will include any new information that the act requires.

Unlike Title IX, which is the federal regulation banning discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funds, the Clery Act has a strong enforcement mechanism: universities can be fined up to $35,000 for violations, Carter said.

“What we just created is an even more powerful tool than Title IX,” said Laura Dunn, one of the negotiators and a third-year law student at the University of Maryland.

Title IX’s only enforcement mechanism, according to Carter, is the withholding of federal funds — an outcome that he said never happens.

Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry did not respond to request for comment.

Three major policy changes emerged from the negotiation session. All colleges and universities will now be required to implement preventative education programs on sexual violence, both when students first arrive and throughout students’ time at the institution.

“It’s really outlined for schools [in the new rules] what the standard is,” Dunn said. “You can’t just do some token effort.”

In 2009, 16 students and alumni filed a complaint against Yale, claiming that the University had violated Title IX by fostering a hostile sexual environment. Since then, Yale has instituted a number of new programs to address sexual misconduct, including the institution of a University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct, semi-annual reports on sexual misconduct, bystander prevention workshops and leadership training for student organizations.

Lindsay Falkenberg ’15, who is involved in the student group Students Against Sexual Violence at Yale, said that continuing education is critical in ensuring a positive environment on campus, and that it is “something that Yale does but can do better.”

The second change is that accusers and accused will now be guaranteed the right to an adviser of their choice in any proceedings over sexual violence. Previously, Dunn said many victims found themselves without an adviser — which can be a lawyer, rape counselor or any other individual — during such proceedings.

The final change is that colleges and universities will be required to expand their reporting of sexual assaults, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Among other requirements, higher education institutions will now be mandated to publicly list all possible sanctions for acts of sexual violence.

“We’ve heard instances of students convicted of rape only having to watch a video or write a paper,” Dunn said. “Now if they dare do that it has to be public.”

Carter added that he feels the new rules take a major step toward ensuring that accusers and accused are guaranteed a fair and prompt process from the initial investigation of sexual violence to the final resolution.

A spokeswoman for the American Association of University Women, which ran a live blog of the negotiations — which stretched over three two-day sessions in January, February and the past two days — said that the organization is glad to see the negotiators have reached a consensus.

“Under the law and the proposed rule, colleges and universities will provide prevention programming, clear policies, transparent disciplinary proceedings and more comprehensive crime statistics,” said Anne Hedgepeth, a spokesperson for the American Association of University Women.

Though institutional advocates for survivors of sexual violence, law enforcement and associations of higher education institutions all had a strong presence at the negotiations, Dunn said she was concerned by the fact that she was the only student negotiator.

There was a lack of representation from people most impacted by sexual violence, Dunn said.

The Clery Act was signed into law in 1990.

Correction: April 2

A previous version of this article misspelled the name of Anne Hedgepeth.

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