Not Alone – Protecting Students from Sexual Assault
One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. Most often, it happens her freshman or sophomore year. In the great majority of cases, it’s by someone she knows – and also most often, she does not report what happened. And though fewer, men, too, are victimized.
The Administration is committed to putting an end to this violence. That’s why the President established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault on January 22, 2014, with a mandate to strengthen federal enforcement efforts and provide schools with additional tools to combat sexual assault on their campuses.
Today, the Task Force is announcing a series of actions to: (1) identify the scope of the problem on college campuses, (2) help prevent campus sexual assault, (3) help schools respond effectively when a student is assaulted, and (4) improve, and make more transparent, the federal government’s enforcement efforts. We will continue to pursue additional executive or legislative actions in the future.
These steps build on the Administration’s previous work to combat sexual assault. The Task Force formulated its recommendations after a 90-day review period during which it heard from thousands of people from across the country — via 27 online and in-person listening sessions and written comments from a wide variety of stakeholders.
Helping Schools Identify the Problem: Climate Surveys
As we know, campus sexual assault is chronically underreported – so victim reports don’t provide a fair measure of the problem. A campus climate survey, however, can. So, today:
- We are providing schools with a toolkit for developing and conducting a climate survey.
- We will explore legislative or administrative options to require colleges and universities to conduct an evidence-based survey in 2016.
Preventing Sexual Assault – and Bringing in the Bystander
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a systematic review of primary prevention strategies for reducing sexual violence, and is releasing an advance summary of its findings.
- The CDC and the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women will pilot and evaluate prevention strategies on college campuses.
- Getting Bystanders to Step In and Help Is a Promising Practice
Helping Schools Respond Effectively When A Student is Sexually Assaulted: Confidentiality, Training, Better Investigations, and Community Partnerships
- Many survivors need someone to talk to in confidence.
- We are providing a sample confidentiality and reporting policy.
- We are providing specialized training for school officials.
- We will give schools guidance on how to improve their investigative and adjudicative protocols.
- We are helping schools forge partnerships with community resources.
Improving and Making More Transparent Federal Enforcement Efforts
- We are launching a dedicated website – www.NotAlone.gov – to make enforcement data public and to make other resources accessible to students and schools.
- The Department of Education is providing more clarity on schools’ legal obligations.
- The Departments of Justice and Education have entered into an agreement clarifying each agency’s role.
The action steps highlighted in this report are the initial phase of an ongoing plan and commitment to putting an end to this violence on campuses. We will continue to work toward solutions, clarity, and better coordination. We will review the legal frameworks surrounding sexual assault for possible regulatory or statutory improvements, and seek new resources to enhance enforcement. Campus law enforcement agencies have special expertise- and they, too, should be tapped to play a more central role. And we will also consider how our recommendations apply to public elementary and secondary schools – and what more we can do to help there.
Today, the President announced an initiative to help put an end to campus sexual assault. It’s called “It’s On Us.”
That’s not just a slogan or catchphrase. It’s the whole point. Because in a country where one in five women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted — only 12 percent of which are reported — this is a problem that should be important to every single one of us, and it’s on every single one of us to do something to end the problem.
As a husband, as a brother, and as a father of three boys and daughter who is a sophomore in college, it’s on me to help create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable, and where survivors are supported.
It’s on me to tell my kids to never blame the victim. To not be a bystander. It’s on me to make sure they know that if they see something that looks wrong, they need to get involved — to intervene any way they can, even if it means enlisting the help of a friend or resident advisor. It’s on me to teach them to be direct, and to trust their gut.
That’s why this is personal for me.
And it’s why I took a step this morning to show my commitment to doing my part. And whether you’re a parent, a student, a survivor or a friend of one, there’s something you can do right now to do the same.
Go to It’sOnUs.org, and take the pledge — a personal commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault. It’s a promise that you won’t be a bystander to the problem — that you’ll be a part of the solution. The President took the pledge this morning. I did, too — along with dozens of other White House staffers. Do it right now.