The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Education

April 29, 2014

Campus rape addressed by task force

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration admonished colleges and universities — “No more turning a blind eye” — as it released guidelines designed to stem sexual assaults on campuses and help the victims.

A White House task force on sexual assault recommends in a report to be released Tuesday that schools identify trained, confidential victim’s advocates and conduct surveys to better gauge the frequency of sexual assault on their campuses, since these types of crimes are underreported.

It says the Justice Department will help develop training programs in trauma care for school officers and assess different models for schools to use to adjudicate such cases, since some sexual assault survivors are wary of a legal process that can open them up to potentially painful or embarrassing questions by students or staff.

It also promises greater transparency. A new website, notalone.gov, will post enforcement actions and offer information to victims about how to seek local help and information about filing a complaint, the White House said late Monday.

The task force is providing a checklist for schools to use in drafting or reevaluating sexual misconduct policies, including ideas a school could consider when defining what is or isn’t sexual consent.

“Prevention and education programs vary widely, with many doing neither well,” the task force said. “And in all too many instances survivors of sexual violence are not at the heart of an institution’s response: They often do not have a safe, confidential place to turn to after an assault, they haven’t been told how the system works and they often believe it is working against them.”

The task force, appointed by President Barack Obama in January, was making its recommendations following a 90-day review that included dozens of in-person and online meetings with victims, advocates and higher education representatives.

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