Renewed Focus on Campus Assault

Phuc Pham | New University

Phuc Pham | New University

The recently signed federal legislation hopes to reshape policies and programs on campuses concerning sexual assault.

With the signing of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), all college campuses will now be under the effect of the bill’s provisions listed under the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act.

The campus-based provisions mandate campuses to provide not only disciplinary and legal investigation on cases of assault and abuse, but also encourage prevention and awareness programs to be implemented.

In late February, the House of Representatives approved the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act with a passing vote of 286 to 138. The bill was hailed by many as a bipartisan victory on the side of Democrats, having been stalled in the legislature by members of the Republican Party.

According to the main legislation, the act provides and also builds on federal mechanisms that aid victims of sexual and domestic violence on a local, community-based level. It also offers protection for victims who are gay, bisexual or transgender, and extensions also are made to the American Indian community, to allow for legal protection from tribal courts. The campus-oriented segment is only a part of the larger VAWA bill as a whole.

Passage of the bill itself identifies a gender division within the Republican Party, with nearly all of the women of both parties in the House voting for the Democrat-led legislation.

Already, the UC Irvine Campus Assault Resources and Education Center, located on the third floor of the campus student center, provides students with information and educational opportunities concerning risks or threats of sexual abuse or assault. The center, which was founded on the ideas of safety and respect, offers counseling programs as well as  annual events such as Take Back the Night and Denim Day.