FACT SHEET: Resource Guide and Recent Efforts to Combat Sexual Violence on College and University Campuses
This month marks the 21st anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). President Obama and Vice President Biden have built upon VAWA’s legacy by committing their Administration to rooting out sexual and domestic violence wherever they exist—especially when these crimes affect our nation’s students. Today, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (“Task Force”) released a Resource Guide to support the efforts of students, faculty, administrators, and communities around the country to prevent sexual violence and improve the response to it at colleges and universities. The Resource Guide compiles guidance, tools, model policies and procedures, training and technical assistance, funding opportunities, and public messaging materials that the Obama Administration and external stakeholders have produced concerning campus sexual assault.
Later today, Vice President Biden will deliver remarks at the Ohio State University about the importance of preventing sexual assault on college and university campuses across the country. The event will highlight the It’s On Us public awareness and bystander intervention campaign, which seeks to engage students and all members of campus communities in changing the culture to prevent sexual assault.
Today’s event in Ohio and the release of the Task Force’s Resource Guide are part of the Administration’s continued fight against sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Over the last six years, the President and Vice President have led the way in tackling these problems everywhere, from college and university campuses to the military to tribal lands and beyond.
The following resources and sample language documents are intended to be informative and flexible, and to be adapted to address the unique circumstances and needs of distinct campus communities. A “one size fits all” approach is not intended; and ultimately, school policies and programs will vary, reflecting the diverse characteristics, structures, and experiences of each school, as well as differences in state and local legal requirements. Additionally, the resources are neither exhaustive nor exclusive and do not constitute legal advice. As several of the Task Force resources already make clear, the information contained in these resources is illustrative and not a statement of Federal requirements. Finally, the resources below include several links to information from nongovernmental sources. Inclusion in this guide does not indicate endorsement by the Task Force of these entities or materials, nor does the information contained therein necessarily reflect the official views of the U.S. government.
Campus climate surveys
Online resource guide on performing a campus climate survey: This website, developed by the Center on Violence Against Women and Children at Rutgers University’s School of Social Work, walks through a campus climate assessment using a survey adapted from the Not Alone toolkit. (September 2015)
- Researchers recently released Campus Climate Surveys: Lessons Learned from the Rutgers-New Brunswick Pilot Assessment, a report featuring results and recommendations from a pilot study of the “campus climate survey model” to assess and combat sexual violence on campus.
- “Campus Climate Survey Validation Study” Project Summary: Describes the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics evaluation of a survey adapted from the Not Alone toolkit and piloted in 9 schools. Approximately 23,000 students participated. (September 2015)
- Not Alone Toolkit for conducting a model campus climate survey: Provides methods for developing and conducting an effective survey and contains a set of evidence-based sample questions to help schools identify the complex dimensions of the problem. (April 2014)
- Online resource guide on performing a campus climate survey: This website, developed by the Center on Violence Against Women and Children at Rutgers University’s School of Social Work, walks through a campus climate assessment using a survey adapted from the Not Alone toolkit. (September 2015)
- Resource kit for campus health centers: Developed by the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments Technical Assistance Center for the U.S. Department of Education, this resource includes self-paced e-learning modules and training materials to understand trauma, review the physical environment, assess clinical encounters, and evaluate relevant policies and procedures of the center in order to promote trauma-sensitive practice. (September 2015)
- Best practices report on sexual violence prevention: A systematic review of primary prevention strategies for reducing campus sexual assault conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (April 2014)
- Fact sheet on bystander intervention: A description of effective programs and promising practices focused on bystander prevention efforts prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (April 2014)
Training & technical assistance
- Online Technical Assistance on addressing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking: This website, launched by the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women, provides training materials, publications, and interactive tools for campus officials, faculty, staff, and students. (July 2015)
- Training Program on trauma-informed sexual assault investigation and adjudication: Developed by the Department of Justice’s National Center for Campus Public Safety, this program provides educational modules for campus officials involved in investigating and adjudicating sexual assault cases. (November 2014)
Sexual misconduct policies & procedures
- Research Study on ways to inform students about campus policies and procedures: This “white paper” describes a study conducted by the University of New Hampshire’s Prevention Innovations Research Center examining ways to deliver sexual misconduct policy information to first-year college students. (June 2015)
Sample Language for a sexual misconduct policy: Developed by the Task Force, the following documents provide sample language to assist schools as they review, update, or draft policies regarding the school’s practices, procedures, and response to sexual misconduct. (September 2014)
- Sample Language for Reporting and Confidentially Disclosing Sexual Violence
- Sample Language for Title IX Coordinator’s Role in a Sexual Misconduct Policy
- Sample Language for Interim and Supportive Measures to Protect Students Following an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct
- Sample Language and Definitions of Prohibited Conduct for a Sexual Misconduct Policy
- Checklist for a sexual misconduct policy: Provides suggested process and key elements for drafting a policy inclusive of important stakeholders on campus. (April 2014)
Community partnerships & memoranda of understanding
- Sample Language for a memorandum of understanding with local law enforcement: Developed by the Task Force, this document provides sample language for schools to improve communication and coordination with law enforcement in order to improve sexual assault response efforts. (January 2015)
- Sample Language for memorandum of understanding with local rape crisis centers: Developed by the Task Force, this document provides sample language for schools to develop or strengthen partnerships with community-based organizations that provide victim services and advocacy. (April 2014)
- Summary of promising practices in victim services: Reviews research on sexual assault services and elements of an effective victim services program. (April 2014)
Public awareness & engagement initiatives
- It’s On Us: A public awareness campaign created to increase awareness and education about campus sexual assault, particularly through bystander intervention efforts and engagement of men. This website includes information on student-led activities, public service announcements, and the It’s On Us pledge. The campaign is a rallying cry, which seeks to reframe the conversation surrounding sexual assault in a way that inspires everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent sexual assault. (September 2014)
- Public service announcement to enlist men as allies: Featuring President Obama, Vice President Biden, and celebrity actors to send a simple message: if she doesn’t consent – or can’t consent – it’s a crime. (April 2014)
Data & information-sharing
- NotAlone.gov: Dedicated website for schools and students providing information, tools, and resources for addressing and responding to campus sexual assault. Includes information and tools developed by or prepared for the Task Force as well as information on advocacy groups, rape crisis centers, and other services for victims. (April 2014)
- Open datasets related to sexual assault and higher education: Over 100 Federal datasets related to sexual violence, program evaluations, and guidance documents made available to the public. (April 2014)
- Clarification chart on the intersection of Title IX and the Clery Act: Created by the U.S. Department of Education to outline schools’ reporting obligations under Title IX and the Clery Act, as well as the intersection with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). (April 2014)
Selected funding opportunities
- Campus grants: The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women announced 27 awards to colleges and universities totaling $8.5 million to enhance prevention, enforcement, and services for victims. (September 2015)
- Sexual violence grants: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced approximately $6.8 million in grants to support research on sexual violence over the next four years, including two awards focused on sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention programs at colleges and universities. (September 2015)
Related law & policy sources
- Regulations under the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act provisions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2013: The U.S. Department of Education issued regulations that instruct schools on reporting obligations under the Clery Act, provide information on disciplinary processes, sanctions, and protective measures for victims, and require institutions to provide ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns for students and employees. (July 2015)
- Resource guide for Title IX coordinators: Released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, this guide includes information for Title IX coordinators on Federal requirements, Federal resources on key Title IX issues, and the coordinator’s role in ensuring a school’s compliance. (April 2015)
- Questions & Answers on Title IX and sexual violence: Released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in order to respond to frequently asked questions regarding schools’ obligations to address sexual violence under Title IX. (April 2014)
- Dear Colleague Letter on sexual violence: Released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to remind schools of their obligations under Title IX to address sexual harassment and sexual violence, including sexual assault on campus. (April 2011)
- Investigative findings and resolutions: The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division publish findings, resolutions, and Federal court filings on their websites. These findings and agreements do not represent policy guidance. Both agencies encourage schools to take proactive steps to respond to sexual violence before an investigation is either launched or concluded. The Office for Civil Rights also provides technical assistance on obligations under Title IX and other civil rights laws to schools, students, parents, professional associations, and other stakeholders.
September Snapshot: Recent Administration Efforts to Combat Sexual Violence on College and University Campuses
- Today, the Task Force announces the release of Safe Place: Trauma-Sensitive Practice for Health Centers Serving Students, a resource kit for campus health centers. This set of training materials was developed by the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments Technical Assistance Center for the U.S. Department of Education. It is designed to foster the development of campus health center environments that are rooted in an understanding of trauma and responsive to the needs of all students, especially survivors of sexual assault. The resource kit provides health center managers and staff with concrete materials to understand trauma, review the physical environment, assess clinical encounters, and evaluate relevant policies and procedures of the center in order to improve the delivery of care and promote trauma-sensitive practice. The materials include self-paced e-learning modules, implementation guides, templates, and checklists.
- On September 19, 2015, the Administration celebrates the one-year anniversary of It’s On Us – a public awareness and bystander intervention campaign to help end sexual assault on college and university campuses. In marking the one-year launch of the campaign, on September 1, 2015, It’s On Us released a new public service announcement on the importance of consent when engaging in sexual activity. Additionally, September 17 and 18, 2015 are official “Days of Action,” in which students on college and university campuses nationwide lead It’s On Us activities, bring increased attention to the issue of sexual assault, and pledge to take action to end it.
This month, the Federal government announced new grant awards that reflect the Administration’s ongoing commitment to providing funding opportunities that enhance research, prevention, and availability of victims’ services on campuses:
- On September 2, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women announced 27 awards to colleges and universities totaling $8.5 million to enhance prevention, enforcement, and services for victims.
- On September 15, 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced 5 grants to support research on sexual violence, including two awards focused on sexual assault prevention and bystander intervention programs at colleges and universities. This research investment totals approximately $6.8 million over the next four years.
Background on the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault
In January 2014, President Obama established the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault to ensure that all students – women and men – are protected, and to support educational institutions as they seek to cultivate learning environments of safety and equality. Just three months after its creation, the Task Force released Not Alone, a report on Federal activities and resources to address campus sexual assault. Over the last year and a half since the Not Alone release, the Task Force has participated in an exchange of ideas and opportunities to engage student leaders, school representatives, advocates, policymakers, and other critical stakeholders on a variety of fronts, including: campus safety, bystander intervention, fair process and procedures, and trauma-informed responses to sexual violence. Through this exchange, the Task Force has utilized a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach to offer tools and guidance to enhance schools’ prevention, education, response, and enforcement practices. These resources are contained in the above Resource Guide and are also available on the Task Force’s website: www.NotAlone.gov.