In January 2021, Governor Baker signed An Act Relative to Sexual Violence on Higher Education Campuses, (Chapter 337 of the Acts of 2020). Generally, this law—commonly referred to as the “2021 Campus Sexual Assault Law”—establishes two new broad sets of requirements for all public and private institutions of higher education located in the Commonwealth and authorized to grant degrees: (1) a new requirement for institutions of higher education to administer periodic sexual misconduct climate surveys (codified as a new section 168D to M.G.L. c. 6); and (2) a new requirement that institutions of higher education adopt certain policies, procedures, and reporting requirements with regard to identifying, preventing and responding to sexual misconduct involving students or employees of the institution (codified as a new section 168E to M.G.L. c. 6).
The proposed regulations (610 CMR 14.00) relate exclusively to language embedded in subsection (c) of Section 168E of M.G.L. c. 6, which requires all public and private higher education institutions located in the Commonwealth and authorized the grant degrees, “to the extent feasible,” to enter into memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with local law enforcement agencies regarding the respective roles and responsibilities of the parties in the prevention of and response to on-campus and off-campus sexual misconduct.
The 2021 Campus Sexual Assault Law includes a specific timeline on regulation promulgation, mandating the DHE to, “promulgate regulations to implement subsection (c) of Section 168E of chapter 6 of the General Laws not later than August 1, 2021.” Section 2 Chapter 337 of the Acts of 2020. The proposed regulations seek to establish the minimum, baseline requirements for the statutorily-mandated MOUs, including: (1) content criteria; (2) an annual reporting and certification procedure for institutions to inform the Department on their progress in establishing MOUs; and (3) a reporting process for institutions to submit to the Department determinations on the “feasibility” of entering in to MOUs with local law enforcement agencies. The proposed regulations would also require the DHE to create and publish an annual report on the status of each institution’s compliance with the statutory and regulatory MOU requirements