A White House task force called for U.S. colleges to conduct mandatory surveys to reveal the frequency of sexual assault on their campuses and student attitudes toward such misconduct.
The Obama administration will provide colleges with sample questions and other materials to develop the surveys, according to a report released today by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. Officials will seek ways to require all colleges to conduct sexual-assault surveys by 2016, the report said.
College students across the country have formed campus groups and filed federal complaints, saying that their schools, law enforcement officials and government agencies aren’t responding effectively to sexual misconduct. Members of the task force, formed by President Barack Obama in January, met with more than 2,000 people to understand the problem and begin developing recommendations, senior administration officials said yesterday in a teleconference with reporters.
“We are here to tell sexual-assault survivors that they are not alone,” the report said. “And we’re also here to help schools live up to their obligation to protect students from sexual violence.”
One in five women will be sexually assaulted during her college years, and men are also sometimes victims of sexual aggression, according to the report. Still, the extent of the campus problem and how schools respond to it remains poorly understood, and Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri and a former prosecutor, has begun surveying hundreds of schools on their policies and practices.
“Everybody needs to be all-in on this fight,” McCaskill, who plans to hold hearings on campus sexual assault later this year, said in an e-mailed statement. “I look forward to working closely with the White House on legislation to better protect our students and ensure perpetrators aren’t getting a free pass.”
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