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Panelists Detail Complex Campus Sexual Assault Regulations at Hearing

September 21, 2015

In preparation for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training convened "Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault on College Campuses," a hearing that included panelists from Wake Forest University and Dickinson College.

During the hearing, House members asked panelists about prevention and response measures on campuses and the current litany of regulations institutions have to meet as they work with student victims and those accused. Several members asked how new laws could streamline regulations and give institutions more time and guidance to serve students. 

"The patchwork of federal and state policies has impeded the efforts of administrators and educators to prevent and respond effectively to sexual assault on their campus," Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) said. "As Congress works to strengthen higher education, it must ensure tough, responsible policies are in place to fight these crimes and support these victims."

Wake Forest University's Vice President for Campus Life Penny Rue and Dickinson College General Counsel Dana Scaduto detailed current prevention measures and disciplinary proceedings on campuses today. Both testified that the current complex array of regulations makes it increasingly challenging for institutions to comply.

"It's a concern shared not only on Dickinson's campus ... but on campuses around the country," Scaduto said. "When we are spending our time trying to harmonize our compliance with the statutes, it takes away from ... prevention and training."

Panelists also delineated the differences between a campus adjudication process and criminal proceedings, as well as prevention methods and education programs for students, among other issues.

"I must express deep concern about the narrative from the media and federal agencies that colleges and universities care more about their institution's reputation than the rights and experiences of victims," Rue said in closing. "I cannot stress more vehemently how wrong that assertion is. Those of us who handle incidents of sexual violence are professionals who share an overwhelming commitment to strike the delicate balance in today's legislative and regulatory environment to preserve the rights of victims, to manage fair and equitable conduct systems, and above all to prevent sexual violence."

Members of the Senate are also scrutinizing campus sexual assault prevention and response. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held its own hearings in advance of HEA reauthorization.

RESOURCES

Campus Sexual Assault Prevention

Contact

Anne Gross
Vice President, Regulatory Affairs
202.861.2544
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