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Pending rule will force colleges to expand definition of 'hate crime,' boost protections against sexual violence

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MATTAPAN, MA - SEPTEMBER 18: Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, speaks to Boston youth at the Mildred Avenue Community Center on September 18, 2014 in Mattapan, Massachusetts. Chris Marion/NBAE/Getty Images

The Department of Education next week will publish a final rule requiring colleges around the country to broaden their definition of "hate crime" and take other steps aimed at limiting dating violence and sexual assault.

Among other things, it will require educational institutions to add gender identity and national origin as a new basis for determining whether "hate crimes" have taken place. It will require schools to outline the disciplinary processes used to deal with cases of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The Department of Education, run by Secretary Arne Duncan, will publish a rule Monday that will force colleges to boost protections against sexual violence. Chris Marion/NBAE/Getty Images

Schools will have to report each year on how they plan to stop sexual assault and other violence, and ensure accusers and the accused have the same rights during disciplinary proceedings.

Under current federal law, educational institutions are required to report on crimes that take place on campus, on public property near the campus, or off campus in buildings owned by the school. The new rule will require schools to also record incidents of stalking that includes information about whether those incidents take place.

"These new rules require institutions to ensure that students and employees have vital information about crime on campus and the services and protections available to victims if a crime does occur, which will be significant assets in addressing the growing problems of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking on our nation's campuses," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.

The rule changes are based on a change to federal law that Congress approved in 2013, when it renewed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.

The department said the final rule will take effect July 1, 2015, but said the government has told schools they are "expected to make a good faith effort to comply with those requirements" as soon as possible.

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