Bill to change annual campus security reports

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The Annual Campus Security Report submitted by the College of William and Mary may soon be expanded to include statistics regarding dating violence, domestic violence and stalking.

A bill to reauthorize and expand the Violence Against Women Act was sent to the U.S. Senate floor for consideration Feb. 2. Sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the bill focuses mainly on federal programs for victims of rape or sexual abuse. One provision, however, would require an expansion of the Clery Act, targeting the reporting at institutions of higher education.

“In general, anything done to address violence on college campuses is a good thing,” Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler ’88 Ph.D. ’06 said in an email. “In terms of direct impact, the act would require colleges and universities to add other information to our annual Clery reports — for example, statistics on dating violence, stalking and domestic violence would be included.”

The Clery Act, enacted in 1990, mandated that institutions of higher education that participate in federal financial aid programs must disclose statistics on campus crime, including sexual assault. With the new provisions to the Act, colleges and universities would have to add dating violence, domestic violence and stalking statistics to their annual report. Colleges and universities only have to include crimes that have been reported to police.

Critics of the new provisions expressed concerns that the additional requirements might bog down administration, especially since the Clery Act has been revised five times since 1990.

Yet William and Mary Chief of Police Donald Challis said the College would have no problem accommodating those provisions in the bill.

“We already have the mechanisms in place to capture the required Clery information,” Challis said in an email. “It will not be difficult to add the new categories. We support any activities that will make this a safer campus.”

Proponents of the provision feel that the statistics will bring the domestic and dating violence issues to the forefront.

“I would encourage them to have this medium for reporting,” Nicholas Gupta ’15 said. “Awareness is important to addressing those issues.”

Dating violence refers to perceived threats to or actual violence between two people in a relationship within the context of dating, while domestic violence tends to refer to violence or the threat of violence between committed partners.

According to Senior Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Health Education Donna Haygood-Jackson, education serves as one of the best methods of combating dating violence, domestic violence and stalking on campus.

“Sometimes, students don’t really know how to define what’s going on for them, or they might feel embarrassed to tell someone what’s going on,” Haygood-Jackson said. “I think it’s about education — making sure we all understand what it is — and then it’s finding ways for people to come forward; and letting them know that it’ll be confidential and that it will be validated and taken seriously.”

With the possible new provisions, dating-violence and domestic-violence statistics would most likely increase. However, Haygood-Jackson warned that people should carefully consider the circumstances surrounding the statistics.

“What they might not understand is that we’re trying to provide a safe environment for students to come forward,” Haygood-Jackson said. “We want them to know it’s safe. On the flip side, by making your campus safe, you’re going to have more students coming forward. So people need to understand when they look at college campuses and the data that maybe they’re providing a safe environment.”

Dating violence affects college students and teenagers significantly. Women between the ages 16 and 24 experience the highest per capita rates of intimate violence at almost 18 incidents per 1,000 women, while men between the ages 16 and 24 experience a per capita rate of intimate violence at almost 3 incidents per 1,000 men, according to a Bureau of Justice Special Report on intimate-partner violence.

“That age group has a very high percentage of male and female students that experience dating violence,” Haygood-Jackson said. “It’s a problem within that age group wherever you go.”

The Senate is expected to debate the bill sometime within the coming month, but other provisions included in the Violence Against Women Act, such as addressing violence among same-sex couples and undocumented immigrants, have the potential to stall the bill.

For the College, however, the provisions would solely affect the annual crime reports and potentially raise awareness about intimate-partner violence on campus.

“Our campus will be charged with making sure that all of our students understand what all those areas are and not to minimize what they are,” Haygood-Jackson said.


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