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Violence Against Women Act Has Requirements for Colleges

The House of Representatives last week passed an expansion of the Violence Against Women Act after Senate passage earlier in February. President Obama is expected to sign the expanded version of the 1994 Act shortly.

The Act has been expanded to include domestic-violence and sexual-assault protections for Native Americans, illegal immigrants, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender victims. And there is a provision of the act called the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, which will require colleges to report campus sexual assaults, stalking incidents, and dating violence with their annual crime statistics. With the exception of dating violence, it’s something the Town of Poughkeepsie’s Vassar College already does. Elizabeth Shrock, who is the coordinator of the sexual assault and violence prevention program at Vassar, says the school will examine the legislation to see specifically what is required for reporting dating violence.

The Clery Center for Security On Campus is a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing violence, substance abuse, and other crimes on college and university campuses across the United States. Abigail Boyer is a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania-based group.

Another part of the campus provision requires colleges to offer students or staff who are victims of sexual assault, stalking, or dating violence, to change work or living spaces. This is something Elizabeth Shrock says is already offered at Vassar.

The Clery Center’s Boyer says many colleges and universities have been proactive in providing support for victims of such violence and stalking.

Vassar’s Shrock says many colleges and universities already have policies similar to the requirements of the new legislation.

Elsewhere in the Northeast, on Wednesday, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst is holding a White Ribbon Day Campaign, inviting men and boys to join in a public pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about men’s violence against women.