National: Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization

Category: Due Process

  • College Facing Trial for Branding Innocent Student ‘Rapist’

    March 14, 2014

    By Bob Unruh at WND.com A federal judge has ruled that a series of claims by a student-athlete against his school will go to trial after he was branded a rapist during a campus hearing even though a local prosecutor who investigated said the case should be dropped. A ruling from U.S. District Judge Arthur Spiegel rejected the request by Xavier University to toss the entire case. It ordered a trial on claims by Dezmine Wells regarding breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, libel through injury to his personal reputation, his profession reputation and with malice, negligence and discrimination. The […]

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  • Accusation, suicide cast shadow over Fighting Irish’s return to glory

    January 7, 2013

    by Kristen Lombardi NBC News   Notre Dame’s high-profile re-emergence among college football’s elite has brought new attention and fresh scrutiny to a two-year-old case involving a Notre Dame player and allegations of sexual assault. In August 2010, 19-year-old freshman Lizzy Seeberg accused the athlete of sexually assaulting her in his dorm. She filed a report with campus police, which sat on it for two weeks before even interviewing him. By then, Seeberg had committed suicide. Administrators would later convene a closed-door campus disciplinary hearing — three months after Seeberg’s death became national news — in which the player was […]

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  • The Controversial Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act

    August 1, 2012

    The original Violence Against Women Act of 1994, penned by then-Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.), allocated money for grant programs to state, local, and Indian tribal governments to expand protections and services and enhance law enforcement support to female victims of violence. Subsequent reauthorizations expanded protections for immigrant victims of abuse, sexual assault survivors, dating violence victims, and underserved populations. The law was reauthorized in 2000 and again in 2005, with bipartisan support. This year, however, the Senate and the House can’t seem to agree. The Democratic-led Senate passed their version of the bill (S. 1925, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act […]

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  • Clock Ticking on Sex Assault Bill

    July 23, 2012

    Student advocates and others are stepping up their calls for legislators to pass a version of the 2012 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act that would expand protections to more students and require additional reporting of crime statistics. In particular, they are criticizing the version of the legislation that’s before the House of Representatives, which would eliminate the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act provision, a component that would require colleges to report instances of dating violence and stalking in addition to other crimes they must already report under the federal Clery Act. The SaVE Act is included in the Senate […]

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  • Encroaching on students’ rights

    May 25, 2012

    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is concerned about how passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act may endanger student rights. The bill would authorize creation of a National Center for Campus Public Safety. FIRE executive vice-president Robert Shibley says such a center would not only be costly for taxpayers, but should also concern students, faculty, and campus rights advocates. “We talk about it as being an artifact of the surveillance university,” he says. “This idea [says] that if you get angry and slam the door or if you’re engaging in whatever they would consider to be unconstructive debate, [that] […]

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  • Encroaching on students’ rights

    May 25, 2012

    by Bob Kellogg OneNewsNow   The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is concerned about how passage of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act may endanger student rights. The bill would authorize creation of a National Center for Campus Public Safety. FIRE executive vice-president Robert Shibley says such a center would not only be costly for taxpayers, but should also concern students, faculty, and campus rights advocates. “We talk about it as being an artifact of the surveillance university,” he says. “This idea [says] that if you get angry and slam the door or if you’re engaging in whatever they would […]

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  • On campus, debate over civil rights and rape

    April 21, 2012

     For months after Kristina Ponischil was raped at a party in her off-campus apartment, her life at Western Washington University was hell. Police wouldn’t act, as often happens in college towns with “he said, she said” accounts of alcohol-influenced student encounters behind closed doors. Despite a restraining order, she kept running into her assailant on campus, prompting panic attacks. Once, the man who’d raped her brushed up against Ponischil in the bookstore, then smirked. “I was just constantly worried that I would run into him again,” Ponischil said. But if the criminal justice system let Ponischil down, Western Washington did […]

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  • Sen. Leahy removes potential threat to due process from Violence Against Women Act

    November 15, 2011

    Campus activists are cheering a decision by Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to do away with a portion of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization that would have required college students accused of sex-based infractions be tried under a lowered standard of proof. “Because of the feedback he has received concerning this proposal, he does not plan to include it in the bill he later will introduce,” explained Senate Judiciary Committee spokeswoman Erica Chabot in a statement. The portion of the bill in question would have codified into law new regulations imposed on colleges […]

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  • Senate Bill Would Further Undermine Due Process on Campus

    October 24, 2011

    Historically, most colleges used a “clear and convincing” evidence standard in student and faculty discipline cases, to safeguard due process. As Nicholas Trott Long noted in 1985 in the Journal of College and University Law, “Courts, universities, and student defendants all seem to agree that the appropriate standard of proof in student disciplinary cases is one of ‘clear and convincing’ evidence.” (Long, The Standard of Proof in Student Disciplinary Cases, 12 J.C. & U.L. 71 (1985)). But in recent years, this due process safeguard has come under attack, most prominently in a legally-flawed April 4, 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter from the head of […]

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  • UC Davis Response to FIRE Letter Misses the Point on Freedom of Conscience

    November 17, 2014

    FIRE wrote to the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) last month to express our concerns about a mandatory “Violence Intervention & Prevention” (VIP) online program which requires students to affirm that certain phrases—all of which are constitutionally protected expression—are “problematic.” Students who do not complete the program cannot register for classes. As we explained in our letter, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that state actors (such as, in this case, a public university like UC Davis) may not compel individuals to adopt certain viewpoints. Unfortunately, though, UC Davis counsel Michael Sweeney’s response to FIRE indicates he does not […]

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  • Department of Education Publishes New Regulations to Implement Changes in VAWA

    October 22, 2014

    Last Friday, the Department of Education (ED) published new regulations (PDF) in the Federal Register designed to implement changes that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Reauthorization of 2013 made to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act). These regulations will take effect on July 1, 2015. A draft of the regulations was submitted to the public for notice and comment—a statutorily-required process that ED inexcusably skipped before issuing its controversial April 4, 2011, “Dear Colleague” letter. The regulations published last Friday are not substantially different from the draft that was offered […]

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  • Connecticut Campus Sexual Assault Bill Further Undermines Due Process

    August 18, 2014

    In recent months, lawmakers in Congress and in states across the country have proposed legislation addressing sexual assault on college campuses. Here on The Torch, we’ve written about the federal efforts as well as California’s troubling affirmative consent bill, SB 967.

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  • Department of Education Offers Proposed Campus Sexual Assault Regulations

    June 19, 2014

    Today, the Department of Education offered proposed regulations for public comment in response to new legislative mandates regarding campus sexual assault adjudication and other issues. The new regulations are the product of negotiated rulemaking sessions held earlier this spring and are necessitated by changes to the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act contained in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The proposed regulations—accompanied now by a 212-page preamble—are unchanged from the version released in April.

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  • FIRE on NPR’s ‘Morning Edition’

    March 7, 2013

    National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) Morning Edition reports this morning on the passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization, due to be signed into law today, and its impact on campus.   While FIRE takes no position on the vast majority of the law, we have been vocal about its provisions affecting student rights at colleges and universities. As we wrote last week, FIRE and others worked effectively with legislators from both sides of the aisle to remove language mandating use of the low “preponderance of the evidence” standard for campus sexual misconduct proceedings and the creation of a […]

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  • House Votes to Reauthorize VAWA; How Will It Impact Student Rights?

    February 28, 2013

    Nearly a month after the U.S. Senate did the same, the House of Representatives voted today to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Although FIRE takes no position on a vast majority of the domestic violence bill, we have been monitoring aspects of the legislation that affect college and university student rights. As various iterations of VAWA made their way through Congress, three distinct threats to student rights were included in some of those versions. The originally proposed version, for example, mandated that campus judiciaries decide sexual misconduct cases under our judiciary’s lowest burden of proof, the “preponderance of […]

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  • 113th Congress May Leave Mark on Student Rights

    January 4, 2013

    Yesterday, the 112th congressional session came to a close and the newly elected members of the 113th Congress were officially sworn into office. I wrote last week about student rights issues that were before the last Congress. But until the session officially came to a close, it was still possible (albeit unlikely) for bills to pass at the 11th hour. So with that in mind, I write today to give the final update on the 112th Congress and a more detailed preview of the 113th. For those of you who could use a quick refresher on Congress, any bill that […]

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  • A Busy 2012 for Student Rights in Washington; 2013 Promises Even More Congressional Action

    December 28, 2012

    Just about every year, Congress considers legislation that, if passed, would impact student rights for better or worse. The soon-to-end 112th Congress was no exception, and I was happy to join FIRE this past March to spearhead our brand-new policy program designed to defend those rights legislatively.  With the congressional session drawing to a close, here’s a recap of some of the legislation that (if passed-and it still could be!) would have altered the rights students enjoy on campus, and a brief preview of the issues that Congress is likely to pick up when it reconvenes in the new year.  […]

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  • The Violence Against Women Act and Double Jeopardy in Higher Education

    October 16, 2012

    The recent Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization included a provision tying institutional receipt of federal education funds to “dual appeal” rights for both accuser and accused.  This proposal raises serious double jeopardy and due process questions concerning college disciplinary proceedings, particularly at public universities.  This article explores the constitutional rights issues at stake when accused students are subjected to rehearings before college disciplinary boards. Read more at The Stanford Law Review Online

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  • A Balanced Approach to VAWA

    July 24, 2012

    Yesterday morning Inside Higher Ed joined The Chronicle of Higher Education in reporting that some domestic violence advocates and survivors of sexual assaults on university campuses have again asked Congress to iron out the differences between the two chambers’ versions of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (“VAWA”). These advocates are encouraging Congress to pass a comprehensive bill before the session closes that includes protections for victims of sexual assaults in the college setting.  This latest push by advocates presents a good opportunity for FIRE to reiterate our hope that any final version of VAWA will take the rights of […]

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  • Where FIRE Stands on VAWA

    May 31, 2012

    Over the last few weeks, both chambers of Congress passed separate bills (S. 1925 in the Senate and H.R. 4970 in the House of Representatives) to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The two versions of VAWA passed by their respective legislative bodies have significant differences, primarily dealing with issues beyond the scope of FIRE’s mandate to protect core civil liberties on university campuses. To be clear: FIRE takes no position on the vast majority of the provisions contained in either bill. Much of the controversy surrounding the two competing versions concern issues that are outside of FIRE’s mission. […]

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  • House VAWA Includes Millions for Controversial ‘Campus Safety’ Center

    May 17, 2012

    WASHINGTON, May 17, 2012—Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2012 (VAWA), which includes millions of dollars in federal funding to create a “National Center for Campus Public Safety.” The proposed Center raises serious concerns for students, faculty, colleges and universities, taxpayers, and campus rights advocates. As the Senate and House versions of VAWA appear poised to be reconciled in conference committee, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is urging Congress to reexamine support for the Center.   “While some aspects of both the House and Senate bills […]

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  • Bipartisan Support for Student Rights in Senate VAWA Reauthorization

    April 30, 2012

    WASHINGTON, April 30, 2012—The U.S. Senate made bipartisan progress on college student rights on Friday as it passed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 (VAWA). Heeding the concerns of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Senators altered language in the final bill that might have required colleges and universities to employ our nation’s weakest standard of proof in adjudicating allegations of sexual misconduct.  “FIRE thanks Senators Patrick Leahy, Chuck Grassley, Robert Casey, Mike Crapo, and Kay Bailey Hutchison for their leadership in protecting students’ due process rights,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “Campus sexual misconduct can […]

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  • Wendy Kaminer Highlights VAWA’s Potential Impact on Campus Due Process in ‘The Atlantic’

    March 20, 2012

    Wendy Kaminer, noted civil libertarian and member of FIRE’s Board of Advisors, has a useful piece on The Atlantic‘s website discussing the threat to campus due process presented by the latest draft of the Violence Against Women Act’s (VAWA’s) reauthorizaton bill.  Citing me, Kaminer writes:  As Senate Republicans resist renewing the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), raising questions about immigration fraud and Indian tribal courts, and Democrats indignantly declare their support of it, civil libertarians should take a hard look at some of the Act’s deceptively innocuous provisions. Section 304, which governs the treatment of sexual violence charges on college […]

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  • Why the Office for Civil Rights’ April ‘Dear Colleague Letter’ Was 2011’s Biggest FIRE Fight

    January 3, 2012

    Looking back at the year just ending, it’s extraordinarily easy to identify FIRE’s biggest fight of 2011: the dramatic new regulations announced by the federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in its April 4 “Dear Colleague Letter.” In my five years here at FIRE, I can’t remember it ever being this easy to select a topic for my end-of-year review. Simply put, FIRE’s legal work has been dominated this year by OCR’s letter: analyzing OCR’s new requirements of every college and university that accepts federal funding (read: virtually all of them); crafting and publicizing our response and […]

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  • Threat to Student Due Process Rights Dropped from Draft of Violence Against Women Act

    November 14, 2011

    WASHINGTON, November 14, 2011—Responding to criticism from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and others, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will drop a provision in a draft of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 that would have required college students accused of sexual assault to be tried under the weak “preponderance of the evidence” standard of proof. The Burlington Free Press (Vt.) quoted Erica Chabot, spokeswoman for the Senate Judiciary Committee, as saying, “Because of the feedback [Sen. Leahy] has received concerning this proposal, he does not plan to include it […]

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  • Changes to Violence Against Women Act Could Threaten Student Due Process Rights

    October 31, 2011

    In a press release issued today, FIRE warns that congressional legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) may include new provisions sharply reducing due process protections for college students accused of sexual assault. A draft of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 circulated by Senator Patrick Leahy’s office effectively requires that colleges and universities receiving federal funding must employ a “preponderance of the evidence” standard—a 50.01%, “more likely than not” evidentiary burden—when adjudicating student complaints concerning sexual assault. The draft also includes a provision requiring universities to allow alleged victims of sexual assault to appeal the results […]

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  • Changes to Violence Against Women Act Would Threaten Student Due Process Rights

    October 31, 2011

    WASHINGTON, October 31, 2011—Congressional legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) may include new provisions sharply reducing due process protections for college students accused of sexual assault, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has learned. A draft of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 circulated by Senator Patrick Leahy’s office effectively requires that colleges and universities receiving federal funding must employ a “preponderance of the evidence” standard—a 50.01%, “more likely than not” evidentiary burden—when adjudicating student complaints concerning sexual assault. The draft also includes a provision requiring universities to allow alleged victims of sexual assault […]

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