A Week of White House Progress on Campus Rape

Screen shot 2014-05-02 at 5.35.35 PMThe Obama administration has been ramping up its efforts to combat campus rape this year.

Just this week, the White House released a 20-page report on combating campus rape, launched a star-studded PSA on the issue and announced that 55 colleges and universities are under federal investigation for the alleged mishandling of sexual violence cases.

The report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, entitled Not Alone [PDF], details steps it will take to prevent sexual assault and support survivors on college campuses, using recommendations it gathered during a 90-day review. Among other steps, the Task Force will pilot and evaluate sexual assault prevention strategies on campuses, provide specialized training for school officials and make federal enforcement efforts more transparent and clear and has created a helpful new website,www.NotAlone.gov.

Among the schools being investigated are the University of Southern California, Occidental College, UC Berkeley, Harvard University, Princeton University and University of Chicago.

Investigators are determining whether the 55 schools violated Title IX, a 1972 federal law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive federal funding. Title IX requires campuses to thoroughly address accusations of sexual violence by doing prompt investigations, and to tell students how to file sexual assault complaints. The law bans sexual harassment, sexual assault or any sort of sexual misconduct that makes a learning environment threatening.

It’s the first time the names of schools under investigation have been revealed; until now, the school names were only released after a resolution had been made. You can see a full list of the schools here. Said Catherine E. Lhamon, the assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education,

We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights. We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue.

The new White House PSA puts the onus on men to prevent sexual violence. Along with President Obama and Vice President Biden, the one-minute video includes appearances from actors Daniel Craig, Steve Carell and Benicio del Toro. Watch the powerful video below.

One in five women students on college campuses will experience sexual assault before they graduate. Learn more about this issue in the Winter/Spring 2014 issue of Ms.

Screenshot taken from the White House PSA.



Anita Little is the associate editor at Ms. magazine. Follow her on Twitter.


  1. So glad that this is finally getting some attention! And that the focus is being placed more on men.

  2. Huck Finn says:

    Note the cross-cultural dimensions of the problem of campus rape. Tier I institutions are also under the judicial microscope for their mishandling sexual assault cases, leading to the obvious–and well-documented conclusion–that patriarchal dominance is the seed from which rape springs. Efforts to educate students about the ways of preventing rape do nothing to deter the rapists themselves. Only a stiff prison sentence will do that, which is why every victim of sexual assault on every campus should immediately report the crime to the local police. Granted, that will not always bring the desired results, but it will generally produce more reaction than an admonition to the victim to think carefully about her assault.

  3. Mercedes says:

    This makes me happy. Finally this horrible crime is being focused on. I’m really glad Obama is cracking down on this issue because it affects everyone. I’m also glad to see that the video teaches men not to allow this sort of vile behavior instead of teaching women not to be raped/sexually assaulted. I think with these celebrities speaking out against this issue in the video, people will listen.
    Another point I’d like to call attention to is the list of schools under fire. This shows that any school, no matter how prestigious, can be accountable for mishandling sexual violence complaints.

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