Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act passes in the House of Representatives

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The 2013 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act passed in the House of Representatives Thursday with a provision that will require universities such as the UC system to address the problem of sexual violence more stringently.

The provision, called the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, will ensure that colleges provide more measures against sexual violence, such as providing survivors with contact information for legal and counseling services, mandating training for officials who handle disciplinary procedures and including cases of stalking and domestic violence in campus crime reports.

With a vote of 286-138 in favor of the bill, the House passed a version of the bill with provisions that would expand coverage of its services and protections for LGBT, American Indian and immigrant survivors of sexual and domestic violence, providing them with grants and legal aid.

Public health instructor for University Health Services Allan Creighton said that although the university maintains robust violence-prevention programs, he anticipates that the provision will push for increased state funding for the university to strengthen such programs.

“Berkeley’s pretty good in terms of staying timely and making sure our policies are up-to-date for preventing sexual violence, but there can always be room for more,” Creighton said. “And I think that the passing of the act is going to make a lot more people aware about the things (related to sexual violence) that happen on campus.”

UC Berkeley junior Sarah Beth Alcabes, the director of this year’s “The Vagina Monologues,” emphasized the impact of student groups and activities as well as the effect of preventive policies.

“I think what student groups can contribute is the perspective of the students themselves and play a role in education and awareness, especially educating communities and parents,” Alcabes said. “It’s something else to know about sexual violence in the hypothetical and another thing to know about the actual stories.”

According to a White House press release, President Obama expects to sign the bill into law, recognizing its significance for saving lives and eliminating violence.

Contact Yvonne Ng at [email protected].