White House Issues University Sexual Assault Recommendations
The White House’s Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault last week released a report, “Not Alone,” providing colleges with basic guidelines for dealing with sexual assault cases. According to the report's findings, “One in five college-aged women is sexually assaulted in college – most often by someone she knows."
The report designated students who experience sexual assault as trauma survivors, and thus recommended that victims be able to speak confidentially to trained advocates. Many universities currently require school advocates and counselors to divulge full details of the incident to university officials, a deterrent for victims to report assaults. Furthermore, the task force clearly states that except for specific insidents with the perpetrator, the victim’s sexual history should be irrelevant.
Many students who have been sexually assaulted reported that they faced skeptical university disciplinary panels that were dismissive of their trauma. They also reported feeling humiliated by having to repeatedly retell details of the incident.
The task force also set up a national reporting system that asks schools to survey students about the experience. While the reporting system is currently voluntary, the goal is to make it mandatory by 2016. Additionally, the Task Force created a website to serve as a resource.
With many universities still discouraging sexual assault survivors from filing complaints and then responding to complaints with lengthy bureaucratic investigations, the Task Force’s hope is that its recommendations will create more accountability for universities and support for survivors.
Read more on the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault's website here.