By Alexandra Hoskins, Esq. Staff Attorney, College Policy Project
The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act has provided additional support for sexual assault prevention programming on college campuses by mandating that colleges include information about prevention programming in their annual security report. While this does not require prevention programming, it is unlikely that a school would feel comfortable saying they had none.
“Annual Security Report. An institution must prepare an annual security report reflecting its current policies that contains, at a minimum, the following information: (11) A statement of policy regarding the institution's programs to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking... (i) A description of the institution's educational programs and campaigns to promote the awareness of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking…"
As a part of the statement of policy, colleges and universities must describe the institution’s:
"(j) Programs to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking … [A]n institution must include in its annual security report a statement of policy that addresses the institution's programs to prevent dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. (1) The statement must include-- (i) A description of the institution's primary prevention and awareness programs for all incoming students and new employees, which must include— … (D) A description of safe and positive options for bystander intervention; (E) Information on risk reduction … (ii) A description of the institution's ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns for students and employees."
The new regulations go on to define awareness programs, bystander intervention, ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns, primary prevention programs, and risk reduction. Below are the regulatory definitions of these terms, along with some examples of each.
Awareness programs are defined as “community-wide or audience-specific programming, initiatives, and strategies that increase audience knowledge and share information and resources to prevent violence, promote safety, and reduce perpetration.” Examples of awareness programs include Take Back The Night, the Clothesline Project, Denim Day, and annual Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities such as those coordinated by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
Bystander intervention is defined by the regulations as “safe and positive options that may be carried out by an individual or individuals to prevent harm or intervene when there is a risk of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. Bystander intervention includes recognizing situations of potential harm, understanding institutional structures and cultural conditions that facilitate violence, overcoming barriers to intervening, identifying safe and effective intervention options, and taking action to intervene.” Examples of bystander intervention programs include Green Dot, Step Up, and Bringing in the Bystander.
Ongoing Prevention and Awareness Campaigns
Ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns “means programming, initiatives, and strategies that are sustained over time and focus on increasing understanding of topics relevant to and skills for addressing dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, using a range of strategies with audiences throughout the institution and including information [such as a statement that the institution prohibits dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking; the definitions of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking; the definition of consent; bystander intervention; and risk reduction].” Examples of ongoing prevention and awareness campaigns include discussion series, ongoing workshops, hosting speakers, long-term projects with student organizations, social marketing campaigns, and creating accessible web resources related to college prevention and response policies.
Primary Prevention Programs
Primary prevention programs include “programming, initiatives, and strategies informed by research or assessed for value, effectiveness, or outcome that are intended to stop dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking before they occur through the promotion of positive and healthy behaviors that foster healthy, mutually respectful relationships and sexuality, encourage safe bystander intervention, and seek to change behavior and social norms in healthy and safe directions.” Examples of primary prevention programs are healthy masculinity programs and groups, programming for members of fraternities and sororities, consent and communication workshops, social marketing campaigns, incorporation of violence prevention education into training for RAs, and more.
Risk reduction involves “options designed to decrease perpetration and bystander inaction, and to increase empowerment for victims in order to promote safety and to help individuals and communities address conditions that facilitate violence.” Examples of risk reduction programs include self-defense or RAD courses, changes to physical space or facilities where sexual assault is common, and safe escort programs.
 34 C.F.R. § 668.46(b).
 34 C.F.R. § 668.46(j).
 34 C.F.R. § 668.46(j)(2)(i).
 34 C.F.R. § 668.46(j)(2)(ii).
 34 C.F.R. § 668.46(j)(2)(iii).
 34 C.F.R. § 668.46(j)(2)(iv).
 34 C.F.R. § 668.46(j)(2)(v).