National Spotlight Remains Fixed on Campus Sexual Assault

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has released a list of 55 colleges and universities currently under investigation for their handling of sexual assault complaints under Title IX.

The release coincides with the release of recommendations by the new White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The report echoes recommendations submitted by RAINN in that it emphasizes the need to better measure, prevent and respond to campus sexual assault. Among its recommendations are:

Enhancing data collection through campus climate surveys. A tool kit for schools that elect to do so is provided and, pursuant to further research, schools may be legally required to conduct these surveys by 2016.

Enhancing prevention efforts through bystander intervention programs. Cited by the task force as one of the most promising strategies available to academic institutions, bystander intervention programs can empower men and women across college campuses to stop sexual violence before it occurs.
Prioritizing victim confidentiality. The report encourages schools to identify and train confidential victim advocates to provide emergency and continued support to those who report sexual violence. A sample confidentiality and reporting protocol is provided for schools to customize.
Increasing information sharing and transparency. In addition to releasing the list of schools currently under investigation, OCR will, moving forward, share publicly all formal agreements between schools and the government in relation to a claim of sexual violence and will make available online a list of each school’s Title IX coordinator.

The White House also unveiled to house information about its initiative. The site features RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline, and allows visitors to search RAINN’s database of local sexual assault service providers.

RAINN’s victim services training manager, Melissa Bermudez, appeared this week on Katie Couric’s daytime talk show, Katie, to discuss the issue of on campus sexual violence. Fellow guests included Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Obama, Tori Amos, RAINN’s first spokesperson, and Josh Pawley, a member of the fraternity Alpha Sigma Phi, which supports RAINN across more than 170 of its campus chapters

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