The recommendations from a task force of federal officials headed by Vice President Joe Biden include publicizing enforcement data, issuing guidelines about confidentiality, and requiring colleges and universities to survey students on their experiences with sexual assault.
Three senior White House officials, who briefed the media in advance of the announcement, said that 1 in 5 women is sexually assaulted while in college, usually in the first two years and usually by someone she knows. The Obama administration, they said, is committed to ending that violence.
“Colleges and universities need to face the facts about sexual assault,” Biden said in a statement Monday night. “No more turning a blind eye or pretending it doesn’t exist. … And we need to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
The actions, to be officially announced Tuesday afternoon at the White House, include:
Colleges and universities will be asked to survey students next year to determine the prevalence of sexual assault on campus and may be required to conduct such a survey in 2016.
A website, NotAlone.gov, will be unveiled to make each school’s enforcement data public, and to publish information about student rights and resources.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release recommendations on how to prevent sexual violence, particularly on how to get bystanders to step in when students are at risk of assault.
The federal government will also address the touchy issue of confidentiality. Often victims ask that their names not be revealed to their attackers or the police, putting campus authorities in a bind in conducting investigations. The government will clarify that students can talk to certain guidance counselors in confidence and will issue guidelines on how to deal with confidentiality in resolving reports of violence.
Schools will be asked to improve their investigative and adjudicative procedures under guidance from the Justice Department.
New guidance will be issued making clear that questions about a victim’s sexual history should not be permitted during school hearings and that a previous sexual relationship does not imply consent.
President Obama appointed the task force in January with a mandate to report back in 90 days. The departments of Justice, Defense, Education, and Health and Human Services participated.
Campus authorities are often the first to investigate allegations of sexual assaults between students. Federal law requires detailed reporting of campus crime statistics and security problems, and also mandates extensive prevention and awareness programs.