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Letter to Tom Harkin, Chairman and Jerry Moran, Ranking Member of Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, & Education

The Honorable Tom Harkin
Chairman
Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services, & Education
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Jerry Moran
Ranking Member
Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services, & Education
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Moran,

We are writing to urge you to support additional funding for the compliance and enforcement of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (the Clery Act) and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) regarding sexual assault on college campuses.

Adequate investigation, resolution and enforcement for violations of the Clery Act and Title IX have been weak for many reasons, including a lack of trained staff dedicated to the problem of addressing the scourge of sexual assault on college campuses. In addition, new regulations from last year's Violence Against Women Act reauthorization regarding monitoring and reporting under the Clery Act will be put into effect later this year and will require additional staff and training to handle the expected increased workload.

Therefore, we respectfully request that you provide $2 million to employ thirteen additional staff specifically trained and focused on investigating sexual assault cases as part of the Clery Compliance Team within the Office of Federal Student Aid Compliance Division of the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, we request at least $102 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 for the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the amount requested by the President, plus $5.046 million for OCR to hire staff exclusively dedicated to investigation and enforcement of Title IX provisions regarding sexual violence.

Campus sexual violence is a pervasive and deeply troubling problem that is plaguing colleges and universities across the United States. According to a 2007 campus sexual assault study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly one in five women in college and six percent of men in college will be victims of attempted or actual sexual assault in the course of their undergraduate careers. A report from the National Institute of Justice revealed that college women are at higher risk for sexual assault than their non-college-bound peers. Campus sexual violence is a crime that threatens students' physical and emotional health and undermines students' right to a safe, non-hostile educational environment.

The U.S. Department of Education is charged with regulating institutions of higher education to ensure compliance with Federal laws dealing with campus sexual assault, namely, Title IX and the Clery Act. Within the U.S. Department of Education, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Title IX and the Compliance Division of the Office of Federal Student Aid handles complaints against schools regarding violations of the Clery Act. OCR receives over 10,000 complaints each year regarding the broad range of Federal civil rights laws that OCR enforces. However, due to budget constraints, OCR is currently operating with less than half the staff the office had in 1980, when OCR received a third as many complaints. In addition, not one of OCR's staff is dedicated exclusively to handling Title IX sexual violence complaints. The Clery Compliance Team within the Office of Federal Student Aid Compliance Division has less than a dozen staff members who are responsible for enforcement of the Clery Act at over 6,000 colleges and universities across the United States.

Given the extent of the problem of sexual assault on college campuses, there is a clear need for more trained staff to enforce the laws currently on the books. In addition, the issuance of new Clery Act regulations later this year will only increase the demand on the U.S. Department of Education to tackle the problem of campus sexual assault. Therefore, we respectfully request sufficient funding to employ additional staff and institute added training for the Clery Compliance Team within the Office of Federal Student Aid Compliance Division and at the Office for Civil Rights, exclusively dedicated to compliance and enforcement with federal regulations surrounding campus sexual violence.

We thank you for your attention to this important matter.


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