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Updated Clery Act Handbook Includes VAWA Compliance Guidance on Required Policy Statements

Hillary Pettegrew, Esq.
October 2020
Procedures victims and higher ed institutions should follow to comply with Clery Act amendments

The Department of Education’s (ED’s) updated Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting includes specific guidance on complying with the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) amendments to the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to disclose crime statistics and security information. The 2016 handbook replaces prior editions.

Under the amendments, an institution’s annual security report (ASR) must include policy statements on applicable procedures — for victims and the institution — when dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking are reported. If your institution doesn’t comply, it would be subject to fines of up to $58,328 per Clery Act violation.

Procedures Victims Should Follow

The amendments require institutions to explain in the ASR what individuals should do if they are victims of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. The amendments include information on:

  • Evidence. Your institution must give victims written information about the importance of preserving evidence; the handbook also recommends explaining how to obtain a forensic exam.
  • Reporting. Your institution must explain how and to whom alleged offenses should be reported. According to the handbook, this means “any person or organization that can assist the victim.” Although your institution can determine the appropriate contacts, ED recommends including institutional and community resources.
  • Law enforcement or campus authorities. Your institution must explain options for involving law enforcement or campus authorities. Victims can notify these authorities — and are entitled to your institution’s assistance if they request it — or they can decline to notify authorities.
  • Protective measures. Your institution must include specific information about which protective measures are available, such as no-contact orders or restraining orders issued by your institution or a court, and instructions for obtaining and enforcing them. If your institution itself does not issue such orders, the ASR must state this and explain alternative options in the jurisdiction.

Procedures Institutions Must Follow

The ASR must include detailed information about your institution’s internal procedures in matters involving alleged dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Among the information to include:


Detail how your institution protects victim confidentiality when collecting and reporting Clery Act statistics and providing victim accommodations and interim protective measures.

Victim Services

Include written information about campus and community support services (such as counseling, victim advocacy, legal aid); if none are available on campus, the ASR must state this.

Protective Measures

Comply with a victim’s reasonable request for accommodations or protective measures. Identify potential accommodation options.

Disciplinary Procedures

Implement and disclose disciplinary procedures for alleged dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, including:

  • Descriptions of each disciplinary proceeding your institution uses
  • The standard of evidence each proceeding uses
  • Specifics about all potential sanctions
  • A statement that proceedings will be conducted by officials who receive at least annual training on topics such as relevant evidence, proper techniques for questioning witnesses, basic procedural rules, and avoiding conflicts of interest
  • Simultaneous written notification to both parties about disciplinary proceeding results and any appeal rights

Finally, the handbook notes that institutions must state in the ASR, and follow, a practice of giving victims prepared, standardized, and written documentation of their rights and options.


More From UE

The Campus SaVE Act/VAWA: A Compliance Guide

Additional Resources

ED: The Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting

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