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Nature


Strategic Initiatives

Campus Safety & Violence Prevention

Overview

The Department of Higher Education (DHE) is responsible for implementing the 2021 Campus Sexual Assault Law, and issuing necessary regulations, policies and technical guidance that will help support and advance campus safety and violence prevention (CSVP) initiatives at public and private institutions of higher education (IHEs) in Massachusetts.

Contact

Amanda Robbins
Campus Safety Advisor
arobbins@dhe.mass.edu

Duration

2008 – Present

Funding

 

Related Data

 

 

Student Identities
Partnerships

 

Related Initiatives

 

Background

In January 2016, the Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education assembled a Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Task Force that included higher education Presidents, Campus Police Chiefs, Title IX Coordinators, and student leaders; representatives of the Commonwealth’s executive branch and agencies; and community-based practitioners. This followed a 2008 report commissioned by the Board that focused on active shooter policies and practices. The 2016 efforts furthered that work and broadened the scope of CSVP, and in June 2016, the Task Force released a report entitled PDF Securing Our Future: Best Practice Recommendations for Campus Safety and Violence Prevention.

Building off the work done in 2016, the DHE has met frequently with campus administrators, public safety departments, and Title IX officials to follow their progress with meeting their goals in CSVP, assist them in navigating the evolving federal CSVP landscape, and to monitor and bring trends and challenges before the BHE where appropriate.

In 2021, with the support of  CSVP community and tremendous student advocacy, the legislature enacted landmark legislation, Chapter 337 of the Acts of 2020—also known as the 2021 Campus Sexual Assault Law—which went into effect on August 1, 2021. The new law codifies many of the best practice recommendations outlinced in the BHE 2016 report.

News, Trainings and Events

Please visit this section of our website periodically for sharing of new resources training opportunities, CSVP events being held locally, nationally, and virtually, and relevant CSVP news highlights.

August 2022 Updates and New Resources:

Reminder: Proposed Federal Title IX Regulations Comment Period is live.

Back to School Safety Tips and Resources: As institutions gear up to welcome students back to campus, it is helpful to revisit some popular resources in higher ed campus safety and violence prevention.

Authority, Guidance and Resources

Below are the Department’s regulations, implementation procedures, and communications related to implementation of the Commonwealth’s 2021 Campus Sexual Assault Law.

Statute

Regulations

Commissioner Communications and Interpretive Guidance

New National Hotline for Suicide Prevention

The new national hotline for suicide prevention is live. Simply dial 988. Find out more about it here.

Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

Rideshare Safety

  • The #WHATSMYNAME Foundation is a PSA campaign to increase risdeshare safety awareness. It was established by the parents of Samantha Josephson, a 21 year-old senior at the University of South Carolina, who was kidnapped and murdered when she was targeted by a person posing as a rideshare driver on March 29, 2019. Immediately following this unfathomable tragedy, Samantha's parents, Seymour and Marci Josephson, set out to educate others on the importance of ride share safety so that no other family would have to suffer this kind of loss.
    The PSA centers on the acronym SAMI (Samantha’s nickname), standing for:
    S: STOP. Plan ahead. Before you request a ride, think about where you're headed and review the safety features in the app so you know how to use them.
    A: ASK. Ask your driver "what's my name" to confirm they have booked a trip with you through the ride sharing app.
    M: MATCH. Match the make, model and license plate of the car with the one displayed in the app.
    I: INFORM. Share the details of your trip with a friend. Utilize the "share status" function in your ride sharing app.

The foundation is one example of the important work being done to bring awareness to rideshare safety among students and others. Check out their website here.

If you have any news, events, or resources related that you would like to share here, please contact Amanda Robbins at arobbins@dhe.mass.edu.

2021 Campus Sexual Assault Law Implementation

Chapter 337 of the Acts of 2020—also known as the 2021 Campus Sexual Assault Law—is one of the first state laws of its kind specifically focused on campus responses to sexual violence. The law applies to both public and private higher education institutions located in the Commonwealth and authorized to grant degrees and has two major sections: a section pertaining to the requirement that all institutions conduct sexual misconduct climate surveys at least once every four years; and another section which imposes specific policy, procedure and reporting requirements on institutions’ efforts to identify, prevent, and respond to sexual misconduct.

The DHE is presently engaging with key stakeholders in state government, the higher education sector, and the greater CSVP network of service providers and advocates to implement the law, which went into effect on August 1, 2021. The new law requires the BHE and DHE to, among other things, promulgate any necessary regulations, convene and co-chair the sexual misconduct climate survey task force, and develop an annual reporting mechanism for institutions. Specifically, under this new legislation, the DHE is responsible for the following:

Campus Climate Surveys

  • Please see the section dedicated to the 2021 Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Surveys for more information on this requirement.

Campus Safety Advisor

  • Appointing a campus safety advisor to facilitate and advance statewide campus safety at public and private institutions of higher education. The advisor will coordinate, aggregate, and disseminate best practices, training opportunities and other resources to enhance campus safety at institutions
  • DHE Campus Safety Advisor: Amanda Robbins
    Email: arobbins@dhe.mass.edu

Community Based Service Provider MOUs

  • Implementing and overseeing the waiver process for institutions that seek to enter statutorily mandated memoranda of understanding with a community-based sexual assault crisis service center but, despite good faith efforts, are unable to secure a signed memorandum of understanding.

Local Law Enforcement Agency MOUs

Regulations
  • DHE promulgated regulations to govern the adoption of MOUs between each institution of higher education with a physical location in the Commonwealth and a local law enforcement agency for the purposes of determining each entity’s roles and responsibilities regarding preventing and responding to incidents of on- and off-campus sexual misconduct, as set forth in M.G.L. c. 6, § 168E(c), and the DHE’s role in implementing that requirement. The final regulations, 610 CMR 14.00: Coordination with Local Law Enforcement to Prevent and Respond to Sexual Misconduct, were filed on July 30, 2021 and took effect on August 20, 2021 when they were published in the August 20, 2021 issue of the Massachusetts Register.
MOU Templates
  • While researching and developing the 610 CMR 14.00 regulations, the DHE CSVP team also researched and identified state and federal example MOUs that met the intent of the law and the regulations. Below are some federally developed MOU samples that may be useful to institutions in drafting their own MOUs. The documents linked below are provided as guidance and the DHE encourages any institution that uses these resources below to ensure its final MOU(s) meet all of the criteria set forth in 610 CMR 14.00.
    • White House Task Force on Protecting Students: Building Partnerships among Law Enforcement Agencies, Colleges and Universities: Developing a Memorandum of Understanding to Prevent and Respond Effectively to Sexual Assaults at Colleges and Universities, January 2015
    • United Educators guidance: Address Sexual Violence in MOUs Between Campuses and Law Enforcement, November 2020
  • Massachusetts IHE-LEA Model MOU Template. DHE also worked with representatives from the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM) to help advance the development of a Massachusetts-specific MOU template to assist institutions in complying with 610 CMR 14.00. The result of that work is an AICUM-developed, and DHE accepted model template. This model template meets the minimum required MOU criteria set forth in 610 CMR 14.00. Institutions that opt to use this template must individualize it to represent and adequately capture their unique circumstances. The DHE strongly encourages institutions to add specific and detailed information to reflect the full extent of the engagement with the relevant local law enforcement agency (or agencies).
Incident Data Collection and Annual Report
  • The 2021 Campus Sexual Assault Law includes a new reporting requirement (M.G.L. c. 6 § 168E (q)), which directs institutions to report annually on sexual misconduct incidents on campus. In order to streamline the collection of this data, the DHE developed an online portal for institutions to submit these data. The portal also serves as a user-friendly mechanism to provide status updates and documentation related to Law Enforcement Agency (LEA) MOUs, registration and waiver requests related to Sexual Assault Crisis Service Centers, and additional CSVP information as appropriate.
  • Resources:

2021 Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Surveys

The 2021 Campus Sexual Assault Law established a Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Surveys. A summary of the Task Force’s charge, composition, and work is provided in this section. Under the 2021 Campus Sexual Assault Law, DHE is responsible for:

Campus Climate Surveys

  • Co-chairing a Task Force to develop Campus Sexual Misconduct Surveys
  • Reviewing and approving the sexual misconduct climate survey model questions provided by the task force; and periodically reviewing and making recommendations for changes to the model questions and to the content and timing of the sexual misconduct climate surveys
  • Providing a copy of the model questions to all institutions; and ensuring that deviations from the model questions are consistent with the law and meet the Commissioner’s expectations and quality standards. The Task Force Report and Recommendations Approved by Commissioner Santiago can be found here.
    • The Task Force Report and Recommendations Approved by Commissioner Santiago can be found here. The model questions only (in a Word document) can be found here.
    • Slides for the June 6th Webinar: Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Surveys Report & Recommendations can be found here.
  • Please find a list of Task Force members here:
    Task Force Members
    Assistant Attorney General, Children's Justice Unit (Civil Rights Division) Abrisham (Abby) Eshghi
    Assistant Director for Campus Services, Pathways for Change Marienelly Vazquez
    Assistant Professor, UMB Monnica Chan
    Assistant Undersecretary for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, EOPSS Angela F. Davis
    Associate General Counsel, WPI Amy Fabiano
    Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine Megan H Bair-Merritt
    Bloomberg Associate Professor of American Health in Violence Michele Decker
    Chief of Police, UMass Dartmouth Haydee Martinez
    Co-Chair, DHE General Counsel Dena Papanikolaou
    Co-Chair, Director, Division of Sexual and Domestic Violence Prevention and Services at DPH Judy Benitez Clancy
    Cultural Outreach Advocate, Bridges and Member, Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth Fahmina Zaman
    DHE Assistant General Counsel Alex Nally
    DHE Campus Safety Advisor Amanda Robbins
    DHE Title IX Consultant Jennifer Davis
    Director of Prevention and Education, Division of Sexual and Domestic Violence Prevention and Services, DPH Mark Bergeron-Naper
    Director of Programs, Elizabeth Freeman Center Jennifer Goeway
    Executive Director, Center for Women at UMASS Gisella Zuniga
    Founder & Chair of Advisory Board, Every Voice Coalition Genevieve Rogers
    MA House of Representatives Rep. Lori Ehrlich
    MA Senate Sen. Michael Moore
    Policy Director, Jane Doe, Inc. Hema Sarang-Sieminski
    Professor of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health  Emily Rothman
    Student  Raaya Alim
    Student  Ali Hagani
    Student  Cameron Glick
    Student  Cindy Mack
    Title IX Coordinator, Mass Bay Community College   Lisa MacDonald
    Title IX Coordinator, MIT   Sarah Rankin
    Title IX Coordinator, Worcester State University   Jennifer Quinn
    Victim Rights Law Center Lindy Aldrich
    Youth Sexual Violence Prevention Education Director, BARCC  Casey Corcoran

2016 Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Taskforce

At its first meeting of the 2014-15 academic year, the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education declared a “zero tolerance” for sexual violence, including “stalking, dating violence, domestic violence, harassment and sexual assault, which can have devastating effects on individual victims, as well as serious negative consequences for colleges and universities.”

The zero tolerance statement was a follow-up to a 2008 campus violence prevention initiative which resulted in a report entitled, Campus Violence Prevention and Response: Best Practices for Massachusetts Higher Education (June 2008). The 2008 best practices document, though a solid document for its time, had its shortcomings. Drafted in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting, it focused almost exclusively on active shooter violence and did not fully address campus sexual violence, including the risks of assaults of minors on campus. 

Securing Our Future

Sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking are serious problems.  An estimated 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men are victims of sexual assault in their lifetime, and the risk of sexual violence is higher for college women ages 18-22 than for non-college women in the same age demographic. This is an issue at campuses nation-wide, and the Commonwealth’s public and private colleges and universities are not excluded.

In January 2016, the Department of Higher Education hired TSG Solutions, Inc. to update the 2008 report.

Over the next six months, the Task Force, led by TSG, set out to address two risks that threaten our institutions of higher education: active shooter and sexual violence. They conducted a statewide survey designed to assess existing policies and practices on campus safety and violence prevention at the Commonwealth’s 29 public institutions of higher education, reviewed national best practices and emerging research in the associated subject areas, conducted campus visits and interviews with senior staff and students, and provided a comprehensive review of key findings. The resulting 120-plus page report entitled PDF Securing Our Future: Best Practice Recommendations for Campus Safety and Violence Prevention was PDF formally accepted by the .Massachusetts Board of Higher Education (BHE) on June 14, 2016. The report encompassed a series of recommendations related to campus safety and violence prevention, with a focus on active shooter and sexual violence risks, and its overall theme focused on practical, fair, and transparent ways to protect our campus communities, especially the Commonwealth’s 29 public institutions, from an array of harms.

On September 28, 2016, campus leaders from across the state convened in Worcester to share best practices and insights, and attend trainings on violence prevention and response. By encouraging cross-sector collaboration, the Securing our Future: 2016 Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Conference focused on a systemic approach to addressing campus safety and violence through governance, planning, protocols, and communication.