In March of last year President Obama signed into law a new Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. While the law itself is not entirely new it does quite well in clarifying many of the questions that people had regarding its predecessor “the Clery Act” of 1992. Today, the new law often referred to as the Campus SaVE Act 2013 casts a wider net over many acts of crime against women to clarify its definitions, include additional offenses, stricter prevention policies, and a more detailed explanation of victim’s rights. Colleges and universities across the country are expected to comply and have all of the new requirements in place by the coming 2014-15 school year. The fight against violence against women has been ongoing for centuries and this new law represents a major milestone for many who are at the forefront of this battle.  But that leaves many people wondering exactly what that means for all of us.  Here are some of the more salient points included in the new Campus SaVE Act 2013.

Clarifies Definitions

One of the main focuses of the new law is to clarify a few definitions that were not fully understood in the previous law passed 20 years ago.  It was discovered that terms such as “domestic violence”, “dating violence”, and stalking were in some cases overlapping causing some confusion about how to report the crime and under what jurisdiction.  With campus laws, local and state laws, the responsibility of investigating and prosecuting such crimes is now made very clear.

Under the new law, any crime against women whether it is a sexual assault or an act of violence is clearly defined and explained so that victim’s rights can be adequately protected.

New Policies

The new policies do not negate the current guidelines previously followed under the original Violence Against Women Act but actually expands on them. Under these new guidelines the University must meet very specific requirements in regards to both education and victim’s rights.

They must include educational and awareness programs not only in their student and staff orientations but also in their regular curriculum throughout the school year.  The definition of each of the stated crimes, the specific offenses in their jurisdiction, the definition of consent, and other core information must become the core of these programs.

A new feature of the Campus SaVE Act 2013 is The Bystander Intervention guidelines.  These assure that an individual who sees a crime being committed will be able to report it without fear of any repercussions or reprisals. This is in an effort to encourage more people to become active participants in the legal system.  The goal is to work to change the societal norms so that others are not just watching things happen but will feel empowered to take a stand against crime against women.

The New Victim’s Notification of Rights

According to the new Campus Save Act 2013, “Any student or employee who reports any incident is entitled to a direct written explanation of all rights and options.”  This clause is separate from the disclosure statement in the original Clery Act Annual Security Report.

An example of the more detailed explanation of those rights can be seen with the explanation of the victim’s right to privacy, which goes beyond that of keeping their name out of a report.  Since identification can be made by means other than publicly discussing the case it is necessary that the steps involved in investigating a case takes into consideration additional actions to protect the victim’s privacy.

For example, if the location of the crime is the victim’s dorm room, sending officers to that room to investigate can reveal the victim’s identity and expose the offense.  In that case, meeting in another location may be warranted.

For centuries women have been relegated to second class citizens unworthy of protection because of many archaic cultural beliefs however today, with the new amendments to the Violence Against Women Act they are taking one more step towards becoming an integral part of our society deserving of equal protection under the law.

These and other clauses go into effect in March of 2014 and it is strongly recommended that everyone take the time to learn these new legal requirements for universities across the country.

Image source: Mark Fischer