SaVE Act aims to make a safer campus environment

The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act went into effect on March 7, 2014. Introduced by U.S Senator Bob Casey and House Representative Caroline Maloney, the act will serve as a new form of transparency in cases of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

According to the Clery Center, the act will provide four main points: transparency, accountability, education and collaboration.

Under the act, universities are required to include cases of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in their annual campus crime statistic reports. Additionally, they are required to provide anyone victimized with their written rights. These rights include:

•Be assisted by campus authorities if reporting a crime to law enforcement

•Change academic, living, transportation, or working situations to avoid a hostile environment

•Obtain or enforce a no contact directive or restraining order

•Have a clear description of their institution’s disciplinary process and know the range of possible sanctions

•Receive contact information about existing counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, legal assistance and other services available both on-campus and in the community

Frederick Miller, director of Campus Safety at California Lutheran University, believes that the act is ethically and morally the best way to handle these crimes.

“Even if this [SaVE Act] wasn’t mandatory at CLU, this is the right thing to do,” Miller said.

Junior Justin Fallon, who is a resident assistant in Mogen Hall, said RAs have a similar protocol when it comes to the way they handle an incident with their residents.

“If we have a sense that the topic could potentially come up, we do have to tell the individual that, ‘if this conversation is going where we think its going, potentially, we will have to tell someone for your safety.’ We want them to know that it’s not going out, but going up in terms of confidentiality,” Fallon said.

If a case is reported, the act requires a minimum standard in the way disciplinary procedures are handled at any educational institution. According to the Clery Center, these standards include:

•Proceedings shall provide a prompt, fair and impartial investigation and resolution and are conducted by officials receiving annual training on domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking

•Both parties may have others present during an institutional disciplinary proceeding and any related meeting, including an advisor of their choice

•Both parties will receive written outcomes of all disciplinary proceedings at the same time.

SaVE is an important tool when it comes to education on the issues of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. The act instructs colleges and universities to provide programming for their students and employees on ways to prevent these issues, to become aware of them, to be able to recognize warning signs of abusive behavior and to provide safe and positive options for bystander intervention.

Elizabeth Manuel, the coordinator for student involvement and wellness at CLU, believes that the SaVE Act will have a positive impact on how these issues are viewed.

“I think the Campus SaVE Act is a great first step to discussing sexual assault and understanding the needs of survivors.  Also it encourages better communication,” Manuel said.

Miller said it is important to have an understanding of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, and that each has specific qualities that differentiate one from another.

According to Miller, here are ways to differentiate one crime from another:

‘Dating violence’ is defined as violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on consideration of the following factors: the length of the relationship, the type of relationship and the frequency of interaction between the parties.

‘Domestic violence’ includes crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child, who is or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or is protected under the domestic or family violence laws.

‘Stalking’ is engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking can be part of dating and domestic violence, but an actual threat of violence does not need to be made for the conduct to be stalking.

‘Sexual assault’ occurs when sexual contact is non-consensual.  An individual is unable to give consent if he or she is incapacitated by the influence of drugs or alcohol, suffer from a mental or physical disorder that makes him or her incapable of offering consent or is acting under threats, duress or force.

Along with being educated on how to handle these situations, Miller believes that it’s important to take the necessary precautions to ensure that these issues do not occur as often.

“Setting your limits [is the best way to handle the situation.] Stay in the present. Be aware of your surroundings. Always look for warning signs, and most importantly, document everything,” Miller said.

Miller said he thinks the best way to document events is to have a notebook with detailed dates, times and descriptions, so that when speaking with authorities, all information is  thorough.

If you or anyone you know is suffering from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, speak up. You can contact Campus Safety at (805)-493-3208.

 

Natalie Kalamdaryan
Staff Writer
Published April 4, 2014