Understanding the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act

What is the SaVE Act?

Posted on 3 March 2014 |

CampusSaveACtSexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE)

After the brutal rape and murder of Jeanne Clery in 1986, it became resoundingly clear that something must be done about college campus safety. Clery’s death was the result of insufficient dorm security, namely three locked doors being propped open for the other residents’ convenience.

Clery’s parents could never get back their daughter, but they wanted to ensure that other parents would never have to experience their pain. The Clery’s had picked Lehigh University thinking it was safer than other campuses, not being aware of the recent increase in crime on and near the campus. Unfortunately, what happened to their daughter, could happen anywhere.

Using money from the settlement received after suing the school, the Clery’s began lobbying for schools to publish crime statistics. The parent’s hard fought victory yielded the Jeanne Clery Act in 1991.

The Act requires colleges and universities to report and disclose all information about crimes in and around their campuses. It also ensures certain rights for sexual assault victims and protects victims and “whistleblowers” from retaliation. While the period of time since the Act has seen fewer reports of violence and an increase in campus security, sexual assault and violence are still a huge problem on college campuses.

Some disturbing statistics:

  • A college with 10,000 students could experience up to 350 rapes per year
  • In 80-90% of sexual assault cases, the victim and assailant know each other
  • More than 25% of the victims from reported rapes are between 18-24

It’s time to really deal with this problem. The Campus SaVE (Sexual Violence Elimination) Act is a new amendment to the Jeanne Clery Act. The Act will be fully in effect for the 2014-2015 school year and calls for increased transparency, enhanced rights for victims, standards in conduct proceedings, and campus wide prevention education.

Campus Save Act and Clery StalkingTransparency

Although institutions were already reporting statistics on sexual assault, they must now collect and report statistics about domestic violencedating violence, and stalking occurring on campus, on public property within and adjacent to campus, and on off campus properties.

Statistics may come from Resident Advisors, Deans, athletic coaches, campus police/security, or local law enforcement. Disclosures and public records must protect the identity of the victims that are part of the statistics.


Students or employees who report any sort of sexual assault must be given certain rights and information, whether or not they decide to formally complain. They must be made aware of:

  • Protective measures they have the right to after the incident (changing of living, academic, work, or transportation situations)
  • Procedures that should be implemented after the incident, including evidence preservation and rights about reporting to or declining help from law enforcement
  • Counseling options available on and off campus

Along with reporting to law enforcement, victims can also seek protective or disciplinary action through their school. The school must implement policies that ensure a “prompt, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution” proceeded over by officials who have annual sexual violence training. They must also make sure that the accuser and the accused are informed of the outcome, the sentencing, if any, changes to results, and final results.


All incoming students and new employees must have access to ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns. The campaigns must include a statement about how the school prohibits sexual violence, definitions of different types of sexual assault and violence, and procedures about bystander intervention and risk reduction. There should also be information provided about proceedings and rights outlined and required by SaVE.

While nothing can guarantee the elimination of sexual assault crimes on campuses, the Campus SaVE Act is certainly a step in the right direction. Schools found in violation will face consequences ranging from a warning to a $35,000 fine, and in some cases, the loss of Federal student aid eligibility. 







Recently revamped in 2013, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was originally passed in 1994 by the Clinton Administration. The Act sought to end domestic violence and sexual assault that targeted women and to revise laws and social practices that have fostered violence against women for generations.

The law has seen several revisions, yet the 2013 reauthorization includes the Campus SaVE Act. The Act affords victims more rights, clarifies definitions, implements training and education procedures, and calls for the release of more statistical data from colleges and universities.

Although met with a lot of resistance from some government officials, an all-inclusive version (extending rights to homosexuals, transgender individuals, Native Americans, and immigrants) was signed by President Obama on March 7, 2013.  Some programs and services provided in the Act include a Federal rape shield law, violence prevention programs, funding for rape crisis centers, and legal assistance for survivors of domestic violence. The rape shield law is a huge leap as it prevents cross-examining rape victims about their past sexual history.

One problem addressed in the reauthorization is the Act not covering male victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. The new non-discrimination provision seeks to prohibit discrimination based on the basis of sex or gender. However, the current revision may not be enough to break the stereotype that men can protect themselves and are never victims of sexual assault.

The VAWA and the Campus SaVE Act work hand in hand with Title IX. While the former two deal primarily with violence and assault, especially on college campuses, Title IX works against all discrimination in education. Some important proponents of Title IX in preventing instances of rape and violence include--

  • Establishment of procedures for dealing with complaints involving sexual discrimination, harassment, or assault
  • Assurance that victim will be able to continue education free of any discrimination or sexual harassment,
  • Protection from retaliation if a complaint is filed
  • Prevention of letting accused interact with victim

Protection from rape and domestic abuse, in the form of treating, preventing, and prosecuting, seems like such a basic right that should be afforded to all, yet some groups struggle for this equality. While we, as a country, are taking steps in the right direction, there is still a long road ahead.

For more information, check out our SaVE Act FAQs, free webinar "Implementing the Campus SaVE Act," our downloadble e-book on Combatting Sexual Violence on Campus, and our Campus Compliance courses.







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