The U.S. Department of Education’s rule implementing changes to the Clery Act under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2014 (VAWA) takes effect today. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on October 20, 2014.

Colleges and universities are subject to several new requirements under VAWA, which includes a provision permitting complainants and respondents to be accompanied by an adviser of their choice during institutional disciplinary proceedings. Some additional changes include:

  • Requires updates to policies and procedures, including additional definitions for student codes of conduct and policy statements for the Annual Security Report

  • Removal of the proposed requirement to record as a new crime reports of stalking that occur after official intervention

  • Making explicit the requirement to provide notice of how to file a disciplinary complaint and request protective measures in cases of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking

  • Clarification that, in rare instances, institutions may remove reports of crimes that have been “unfounded,” and a new requirement to disclose in the Annual Security Report the number of “unfounded” crime reports

The rule also imposes training requirements, mandating that new students and new employees be provided with “primary prevention and awareness programs” that promote awareness of rape, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Institution officials involved in cases relating to alleged dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking must also undergo annual training regarding how to conduct investigations and how the hearing process protects the safety of complainants and promotes accountability.

Attorneys in Ballard Spahr’s Higher Education Group have experience advising colleges and universities on compliance with overlapping obligations under Title IX, VAWA, and the Clery Act. The Group regularly conducts investigations, provides compliance advice and training, and audits policies and procedures when Title IX issues arise on campus. Ballard attorneys also frequently advise educational institutions on compliance with federal, state, and local laws. Please contact Olabisi “Bisi” Okubadejo at 410.528.5532 or, Carolyn A. Pellegrini at 215.864.8314 or, or Andrew E. Kampf at 215.864.8323 or with any questions.

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