Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act Signed into Law by President Biden

April 1, 2022

The VAWA has Serious Implications for College Campuses

On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act of 2022 (the “VAWA”) into law. The VAWA, considered to be the most significant campus sexual assault legislation in a decade, reauthorizes, strengthens and modernizes the Violence Against Women Act first enacted in 1994. The purpose of reauthorizing the VAWA is to continue providing resources and support to victims of sexual violence and domestic abuse.

Notably, the VAWA has serious implications for college campuses. The following are key provisions of the VAWA that will significantly impact universities across the nation:

National Campus Climate Survey

The U.S. Secretary of Education is required to establish a standardized campus climate survey to be distributed to students by all institutions of higher learning that receive federal funding. The survey, which will ask a random sample of students about their experiences with sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, stalking and dating violence, must be administered biannually. Survey results will be published for public viewing.

Task Force on Sexual Violence in Education

An Interagency Task Force on Sexual Violence in Education (the “Task Force”) will be established to provide information to the government, the public and educational institutions regarding campus sexual violence prevention. The Task Force will also provide information on how campuses generally respond to sexual violence and how to better assist survivors of sexual violence.

Campus Grants

The VAWA reauthorizes the Grants to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Stalking on Campus (the “Grants”) through fiscal year 2027. The Grants was originally established by Congress in acknowledgement of the special challenges faced by colleges in preventing and responding to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

Trauma-Informed Investigations

Law enforcement agencies, including campus police, will now be eligible for federal grants to improve sexual assault investigations. In tandem with the Abby Honold Act, a two-year test program has been established for police training on trauma-informed investigations into sexual assaults, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.

Best Practices Report

The VAWA requires the U.S. Department of Education to submit a report to Congress encompassing best practices regarding sexual assault, domestic violence and dating violence. Specifically, the report will analyze and evaluate campus programs and provide an assessment of best practices. The report must be submitted within one year after the VAWA’s enactment and will be made available for public viewing.

KJK’s Student & Athlete Defense attorneys will continue to monitor any updates with the VAWA. For more information or to discuss further, please contact Susan Stone (scs@kjk.com; 216.736.7229) or Kristina Supler (kws@kjk.com;  216.736.7217).