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Complying with Campus SaVE Act

 

Officials at Mission College, West Valley College and the West Valley-Mission Community College District have been working together to implement requirements of the federal Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act, which addresses the violence individuals face on college campuses across the country.

“At both colleges, we don’t see this as just a mandate that we need to be in compliance with,” said Myo Myint, former interim dean of student services at Mission College. “Instead, we welcome the opportunity to make our campuses safer for our students, especially knowing that, in the past, society as a whole has kind of blamed the victim in some cases. We really welcome the opportunity this Campus SaVE Act provides to change those attitudes and beliefs.”

The SaVE Act, an extension to the federal Clery Act, requires that colleges, including community colleges, meet mandates in three primary areas related to violence against individuals – transparency, accountability and education.

With regards to transparency, colleges must disclose incidences of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in annual campus crime statistic reports. They also must ensure that students or employees are aware of their rights related to reporting a crime as well as existing counseling, mental health and other services.

The accountability portion of the SaVE Act focuses on disciplinary procedures covering domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, while the education component instructs colleges to provide programming for both students and employees on those issues. Education programs must include a variety of components, including prevention and awareness programs for all incoming students and new employees, as well as ongoing programs for students and faculty.

The District as a whole, as well as Mission College and West Valley College, have updated their policies and administrative procedures to reflect the new requirements. Additionally, both colleges are in the process of deciding on the best approach to providing the necessary training for faculty, staff and other personnel on campus.

Already, the colleges have been stepping up education efforts with students and documenting the results. Earlier this fall, for example, Mission College held a talk on campus about domestic violence and drew more than 80 students, Myint said. That’s a big increase compared with previous talks, he said.

“It’s not that this is something new, but we’re now really documenting these things a little bit more,” Myint said.

For Victoria Hindes, vice president of student services at West Valley College, the emphasis on prevention is a big benefit of the new requirements. For example, she said, the college has put together a quick prevention checklist for students, encouraging students to ask themselves a range of questions from whether they know the characteristics of a healthy relationship to whether they know where on campus to go for support and assistance.

“The important part is that we want to make sure that students are well-informed and to let them know that there are support mechanisms in place,” Hindes said. “It produces a better informed, better educated citizenry of students.”

Additionally, Hindes said, the new requirements will help ensure awareness of staff and faculty. Faculty, because of their daily contact with students, are often among the first people to whom students will report incidents. The new requirements provide clear guidelines, she said, on exactly how to handle these situations, which benefits both students and those who work with them.

To learn more about each college’s efforts, visit: westvalley.edu/services/student-right-to-know/campus-save-act.html and www.missioncollege.org/gen_info/info_and_disclosures/index.html.