Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA) today re-introduced the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency (HALT) Campus Sexual Violence Act to strengthen efforts to combat the epidemic of sexual violence on college campuses.
“We have to stop campus sexual assault in its tracks,” said Speier. “We need real enforcement that will make colleges live up to their obligations under federal law.” At an event marking the introduction, Speier reiterated that “Rape is a crime” and noted that the HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act was a result of student organizing and survivors who have had the courage to come forward.
Just this past April, in response to inquiries from Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Tim Kaine (D-VA), the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) within the Department of Education – which enforces Title IX – reported that between FY2009 and FY2014, sexual violence complaints at institutions of higher education increased by more than 1000 percent. OCR noted that the number of complaints has made it difficult for the Department to complete timely investigations. The average length of a sexual violence investigation increased from 379 days in 2009 to 1,469 days in 2014. According to OCR, the Department could decrease the length of these investigations if “Congress increases OCR’s appropriation to allow OCR to manage its current and projected caseload.”
Similarly, the Federal Student Aid office, which is responsible for enforcing the Clery Act, also indicated a need for increased funding. The Clery Act requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding to report crime statistics to DOE and the public. According to the Federal Student Aid office, the number of forcible sexual assaults on campus has nearly doubled between 2009 and 2014, from 3,264 forcible sexual assaults reported in FY2009 to 6,016 in FY2014.
The HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act would increase funding for Title IX and Clery investigators and also allow students to sue universities for violations of the Clery Act in order to obtain, among other things, compensatory damages. In addition, the bill requires public disclosure of the list of institutions under investigation, the sanctions imposed (if any) or findings issued after investigation, and a copy of all program reviews and resolution agreements entered into between higher education institutions and the Department of Education & the Department of Justice under Title IX and the Clery Act. Penalties for violations of the Clery Act would also be increased from $35,000 to $100,000 per violation. The Act would also require schools to complete biennial climate surveys.
Media Resources: Congresswoman Jackie Speier Press Release 6/4/15; Department of Education, Letter to Senator Boxer 4/28/15; Senator Barbara Boxer, Press Release 2/20/15; Senator Tim Kaine, Press Release 12/15/14