(March 6, 2014) -- The federal government should push colleges to improve the criminal justice response to rape, de-emphasize internal judicial boards, put in place bystander intervention and risk reduction programs, and ensure comprehensive care for victims, RAINN advised a new White House task force charged with creating a plan to reduce rape on college campuses.
In 16 pages of recommendations , RAINN urged the task focus to remain focused on the true cause of the problem. “In the last few years, there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming “rape culture” for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campuses. While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important to not lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime,” said the letter to the task force from RAINN’s president, Scott Berkowitz, and vice president for public policy, Rebecca O’Connor.
President Obama appointed the White House Task Force  to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in January, giving it 90 days to recommend improvements colleges should make. The task force includes representatives from the White House, Justice Department, Education Department, Health and Human Services and other federal agencies.
RAINN’s recommendations pointed to research that suggests that more than 90% of college rapes are committed by about 3% of college men (reliable research about female perpetrators is harder to come by). Based on that pattern of assaults by repeat offenders, RAINN stressed the importance of treating sexual assaults on campuses as the serious crimes that they are, and ensuring that there are meaningful consequences.
RAINN also stressed the need to de-emphasize colleges’ internal judicial boards. “The FBI, for purposes of its Uniform Crime Reports, has a hierarchy of crimes — a ranking of violent crimes in order of seriousness. Murder, of course, ranks first. Second is rape. It would never occur to anyone to leave the adjudication of a murder in the hands of a school’s internal judicial process. Why, then, is it not only common, but expected, for them to do so when it comes to sexual assault,” the letter asked. “The simple fact is that these internal boards were designed to adjudicate charges like plagiarism, not violent felonies. The crime of rape just does not fit the capabilities of such boards.”
For prevention programs, “RAINN recommends a three-tiered approach when it comes to preventing sexual violence on college campuses,” the letter noted. A prevention campaign should include the following elements:
Other recommendations included getting colleges to:
RAINN also recommended that the federal government:
RAINN’s letter to the task force also included ideas drawn from a survey it issued to 100,000 supporters, requesting input from the community on this issue. RAINN received an overwhelming number of responses from survivors, victim advocates, law enforcement personnel, campus officials and faculty members, prosecutors, and others, said O’Connor.
Read all of RAINN’s recommendations  to the White House task force.