Thursday, January 23, 2014

Obama Task Force to Focus on Campus Sexual Assault

Yesterday, President Obama announced the creation of a Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, a group of senior administration officials charged with coordinating the government's efforts to combat sexual assault on college and university campuses.  This announcement came on the heels of the release of a report by the White House Council on Women and Girls Leadership, that describes the prevalence of rape and sexual assault and the impacts of this problem on society.  The report, titled Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action, identifies college campuses as environments that pose particular risks and challenges, resulting in the alarming statistic that 1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted while in college.  One aspect of of the problem of campus assault is the high rate of serial offenses (63% of college offenders admit to committing an average of 6 rapes each), underscoring the importance of institutional intervention. 

The report also outlines the Task Force's objectives, which largely relate to enforcement of Title IX, the Clery Act, and Campus SaVE, including:
  • Provide educational institutions with best practices for preventing and responding to rape and sexual assault. 
  • Build on the federal government’s enforcement efforts to ensure that educational institutions comply fully with their legal obligations. 
  • Improve transparency of the government’s enforcement activities. 
  • Increase the public’s awareness of an institution’s track record in addressing rape and sexual assault. Enhance coordination among federal agencies to hold schools accountable if they do not confront sexual violence on their campuses.
Members of the Task Force include Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder.