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New VAWA Clarifies Rights of Campus Sexual Violence Victims

March 7, 2013 07:40:04 am

The updated version of the Violence Against Women Act being signed today by President Obama will include new requirements for how colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual assault, NPR reports. The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, which was added to VAWA, clarifies the rights of victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, or stalking on campus. It gives victims a new ability to appeal an outcome. It requires schools to inform victims of their rights and options, and to tell them where to get counseling and legal help. The law addresses issues raised in NPR's 2010 series Seeking Justice for Campus Rapes. The stories, a joint effort with the Center for Public Integrity, reported that judicial proceedings were often secretive on campuses, and women often faced barriers when they tried to report rape complaints. Even when men were found responsible, they were almost never expelled, NPR and CPI concluded. In many cases, it was the woman who dropped out of school rather than live in the same dorm or take classes with the man she'd accused. Will Creeley, of the nonpartisan Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, worries that with the new law, the pendulum is swinging too far back the other way, giving too much protection to students who make accusations at the expense of the rights of the accused.
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