The recent passage of the Violence Against Women Act might affect University protocol, according to Summer Steib, director of the University Women’s Center.
After a 16-month struggle, the House of Representatives passed VAWA with a 286 to 138 vote. The reauthorization of the act includes protection for immigrant women, Native American women and members of the LGBT community.
Executive Director of the Capital Area Family Violence Intervention Center Judy Benitez said VAWA has played a role in responding to women in different at-risk situations for many years.
“VAWA is really the backbone to the multi-system response to domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual assault crimes across the country,” Benitez said.
Steib said the inclusive language in the legislation was imperative.
According to Steib, one of the most relevant parts of the legislation is the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, also known as SaVE.
Steib said the bill focuses on improving prevention, awareness and reporting of domestic violence, stalking and sexual violence for higher education institutions that receive federal funding.
“The University is already looking into the ways the bill will impact the work that is done around here,” Steib said.
She said since the legislation was recently passed and still awaits President Barack Obama’s signature, the University is reading the language now to make sure prevention, awareness and reporting programs currently in place meet the new national standards.
“To not have safety nets for every population is not what VAWA is about,” Steib said.
Benitez said the act will not change the way CAFVIC is run, but will have a great impact on a national level.
“It won’t change the way we do things, because we are very mindful of inclusiveness, always,” Benitez said. “On a national scale, the protections for Native [American] women will give tribal authorities the ability to prosecute non-natives that go on reservations and sexually assault women.”
International studies junior Moriah Graham said the act puts women’s issues on the map.
“It really shows that women’s issues and LGBT issues are more important to the legislation,” Graham said. “You can’t expect to hold an office and ignore the minority and disenfranchised in the community.”
Jodi Shipley, psychology senior, said the legislation was “monumental” for the LGBT community, especially for transgender women who are more prone to violence.
“One in 12 trans women are murdered and one in eight trans women of color are murdered,” Shipley said.