White House Issues Report to Prevent Sexual Assault on College Campuses
A White House task force will launch a Web site dedicated to sexual misconduct and other safety issues.
“Colleges and universities need to face the facts about sexual assault,” Vice President Biden said in a statement as a 20-page report was released. “No more turning a blind eye or pretending it doesn’t exist. We need to give victims the support they need — like a confidential place to go — and we need to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
The Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, which Barack Obama formed in January, is led by Biden and the White House Council on Women and Girls, canvassed assault survivors, college administrators and others for ideas on how to respond to a phenomenon researchers have found: that one in five women is sexually assaulted in college.
Among the report’s top recommendations:
- Colleges should learn about what’s happening on campus through systematic surveys. The task force said the administration would consider requiring colleges to conduct such surveys in 2016.
- Colleges should promote “bystander intervention” — getting witnesses to step in and help when misconduct arises. “To help enlist men as allies, we are releasing a Public Service Announcement featuring President Obama, Vice President Biden, and celebrity actors,” the report said.
- Colleges should identify trained victim advocates who can provide emergency and ongoing support. The administration plans to release a sample reporting and confidentiality protocol, as well as a “checklist” for an effective sexual misconduct policy.
The report also said the government would make enforcement data and other information about sex assault on campuses available through NotAlone.gov. It said the new Web site would collect information that students had often struggled to find. The site will aim to “give students a clear explanation of their rights,” the report said, as well as “a simple description of how to file a complaint” with federal authorities. “It will help students wade through often complicated legal definitions and concepts, and point them toward people who can give them confidential advice — and those who can’t,” the report said.