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The VAWA Amendments to the Clery Act – 10 Years Later

The VAWA Amendments to the Clery Act – 10 Years Later

As we close out Women’s History Month and look ahead to Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we are honoring the tenth anniversary of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which  amended the Clery Act to include dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking as Clery Act crimes. The 2013 VAWA amendments also established the first ever federal requirement for prevention programming and response procedures for the crimes of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking (DVSAS) as well as universal standards for disciplinary procedures at institutions of higher education. These requirements ensure that students and employees on college campuses can recognize these types of crimes, intervene safely, understand consent and what constitutes a healthy relationship, and receive due process when resolving complaints (see related resources below). The VAWA amendments also impacted hate crime bias categories under the Clery Act, adding gender identity and separating national origin and ethnicity.

The original 1994 passage of VAWA led to revolutionary changes, including a significant increase in reporting domestic and sexual violence to police and all states passing laws making stalking a crime. It also led to the 1995 creation of The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) under the U.S. Department of Justice. OVW takes a multifaceted approach in implementing VAWA, reducing violence against women and strengthening programs supporting these efforts nationwide; among these programs is OVW’s campus grant program, which in 2022 gave over $10.6 million in funding to institutions of higher education to prevent and respond to DVSAS crimes. Since 2009 Clery Center has proudly served as the Federal Technical Assistance provider for Clery Act compliance under this program, providing education and training for thousands of grantees.

As colleges and universities have worked to integrate the 2013 VAWA amendments, they have gained a clearer picture of what violence actually looks like on campus, allowing them to more sufficiently prevent and respond to gender-based violence. Previously, incidents involving behavior of this nature would have been classified as aggravated assault, if anything at all, which fails to capture the nuanced nature of gender-based violence and how it should be addressed and prevented. The VAWA amendments also provide equity for both parties involved in disciplinary procedures, ensuring that both have the right to an advisor of choice, and simultaneous written notification of the outcome of such proceedings including available appeal procedures. In 2023 some of these rights might sound familiar, as they were echoed (and undermined, in some cases, as we outline here) in 2020’s updated Title IX regulations.

Over the past ten years, the impact of the VAWA amendments on campus safety has been tremendous, providing institutions of higher education with tools and standards for preventing and responding to crimes that tend to be misunderstood, underreported, or dismissed outright. These standards increase transparency and awareness on college campuses, supporting the original goals of the Clery Act. Looking ahead, we hope that the next decade continues to see legislation furthering these goals — such as the Respond and Educate about Campus Hazing (REACH) Act — advancing campus safety for a new generation. 

Related Resources:

 
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