The White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault released its first report this morning, which includes new guidelines to help colleges and universities prevent, identify and respond to sexual assault on campus.
The report, based on information from students, administrators, law enforcement and other campus officials, and others about how higher education institutions deal with sexual assault, calls on colleges to:
- Conduct climate surveys beginning next year to learn more about the prevalence of assault on campus. These would be voluntary, but the report says that “we will explore legislative or administrative options to require schools to conduct a survey in 2016.”
- Enhance prevention programs, particularly to engage men as part of the solution.
- Draft new or reevaluate existing sexual misconduct policies.
- Train campus officials how to respond to sexual assault victims, and amend policies to provide victims with greater options to speak confidentially with certain campus officials.
- Adapt campus disciplinary processes to abide by new directives from the Education Department.
In conjunction with the report’s release, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights issued a 52-point guidance document on Title IX, which outlines colleges’ legal obligations to prevent, investigate and resolve reports of sexual assault on campus.
The guidance also clarifies that “recent amendments to the Clery Act do not alter a school’s responsibility under Title IX to respond to and prevent sexual violence.”
“Our institutions have established a range of practices to prevent and respond to sexual assault on campus, including workshops on bystander intervention and healthy relationships, informational campaigns and other education programs,” said ACE President Molly Corbett Broad in a statement issued today. “We would welcome the chance to collaborate with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights on the serious problem of sexual assaults on campus, which as the Task Force notes is a 'complicated, multi-dimensional problem with no easy or quick solutions.'"
White House Raises the Bar for Colleges’ Handling of Sexual Assault
The Chronicle of Higher Education (April 29, 2014)
White House Continues Crackdown on Campus Sexual Assault
Politico (April 29, 2014)
Campus Rape Addressed by White House Task Force
The Associated Press (ABC News) (April 29, 2014)
Standoff on Sexual Assaults
Inside Higher Ed (April 29, 2014)
White House to Press Colleges to Do More to Combat Rape
The New York Times (April 28, 2014)