College campuses in the United States will be required to compile and publish a wider array of crime data under new regulations announced by the federal government Friday.
The new rules mandate that all colleges receiving federal funding publish data on how frequently domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking occur on campus. Regulators believe the stronger requirements will help reduce the rate of sexual assault on campus.
The new rules expand the scope of the Clery Act, a federal law that compels colleges and universities to regularly publish crime statistics and issue campus warnings whenever student safety might be threatened.
Previously, schools were only compelled to publish data on crimes such as murder, burglary, and assault, but recent campus activism has pressured the White House to put an increased focus on stopping all crimes related to sexual offenses, with the goal of breaking down the so-called “rape culture” that is said to prevail on campus.
According to activists, as many as one in five women suffer some kind of rape or sexual assault before leaving college, though others dispute those statistics as grossly inflated.
“The Department has the responsibility to ensure that all of our students have the opportunity to learn and grow in a safe environment,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a statement accompanying the new rules. “These new rules… will be significant assets in addressing the growing problems of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking on our nation’s campuses.”
The new rules also require colleges to expand what categories count as possible sources of bias for hate crimes. Going forward, colleges must add gender identity and national origin as potential bias factors alongside traditional categories such as race and religion.
The new rules take effect on July 1 of 2015, though the Department of Education’s announcement said that colleges were expected to make a “good faith effort” to start applying them this year. It is the latest of many measures taken by the Obama administration this is to combat sexual assault on campus, which has emerged as a major issue for many liberal activists.
Last spring, the Administration created a sexual assault task force to develop new policies for combating sexual assault, and just last month it launched the “It’s On Us” ad campaign aiming to convince young people to sign a pledge to help stamp out sexual assault.
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