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.


Associate editor of Ms. magazine