Effective July 1, 2015, institutions of higher education in Maryland must ensure (I) that their sexual assault policies comply with this new law, (II) that they are pursuing formalized agreements with law enforcement and sexual assault victims’ groups, and (III) that they begin to take the steps necessary to implement the newly required sexual assault survey.
I. Sexual Assault Policy
This law, signed by Governor Hogan on May 12, 2015, requires the sexual assault policies of institutions of higher education to prohibit campus conduct actions for violations of alcohol and drug use policies against students who report incidents of sexual assault or participate in investigations as witnesses. The sexual assault policies must also prohibit the institutions of higher education from retaliating against students who file complaints for sexual assault or participate as witnesses in investigations.
II. Formalized Agreements
Each institution of higher education must pursue a formalized agreement with local law enforcement that clearly states when a school will refer a matter to local law enforcement. Each institution of higher education must also pursue a formalized agreement with a state designated rape crisis program, a federally recognized sexual assault coalition, or both, that formalizes a commitment to provide services to victims of sexual assault and improves the overall response to sexual assault.
III. Sexual Assault Survey
The Maryland Higher Education Commission (“MHEC”), in consultation with institutions of higher education, must establish procedures for the administration of an online “sexual assault campus climate survey” by each institution of higher education. On or before June 1, 2016, and every two years thereafter, each institution must submit a report to MHEC on school specific results of the sexual assault survey as well as a report aggregating the data collected by the institution regarding sexual assault complaints made to the institution. Additionally, on or before October 1, 2016, and every two years thereafter, MHEC must submit these reports to the Governor as well as publish these reports on its website.
PERSONAL ELECTRONIC ACCOUNT PRIVACY PROTECTION – INSTITUTIONS OF POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION (HOUSE BILL 934)
Effective June 1, 2015, institutions of postsecondary education are prohibited from requiring or requesting a student or prospective student to grant access to or allow observation of the individual’s personal electronic account, such as a social media profile. Further, institutions of postsecondary education may not compel a student to allow such access as a condition of acceptance or participation in curricular or extracurricular activities, and the institutions may not take disciplinary action in response to a student’s refusal to grant such access.
This new law does not apply to electronic media accounts that are opened at the institution of postsecondary education’s behest or to accounts that are provided by the institution, and it also does not prohibit the institution from viewing an individual’s publicly available information. Further, the law does not prohibit the institution from requesting that a student create a generic personal electronic account in order to complete an academic or career-based activity.
An individual who is the subject of a violation of this law may sue to enjoin the violation or, after sending written notice to the alleged violator, sue for damages up to $1,000.
Covered institutions of higher education should review their sexual assault policies, begin to pursue agreements with law enforcement and sexual assault victims’ groups, and prepare to develop and administer sexual assault surveys. Covered institutions of postsecondary education also should ensure that they are not requiring or requesting access to students’ personal electronic accounts. Please contact Kathy Hoskins, Steve Metzger or another member of the firm’s Education Law Group if you need assistance in complying with these new laws.
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