Washington, D.C.- In an effort of forcing colleges and universities to address sexual harassment and assault on their campuses, the Obama Administration released the names of 55 schools across the country that are under investigation for their mishandling of complaints.
Earlier this year, the Obama Administration took a more proactive stance towards sexual assault in the military and college campuses after learning that one in five women are raped or assaulted at least once during their college careers. As a father of two daughters, he was shocked to learn that 36 percent of all women in the U.S. will face some sort of sexual harassment or abuse at least once in their lifetime. So, doing something about rampant sexual abuse has become a priority for the president. This list of universities under investigation by the Department of Education is just one the actions he has taken.
As many report, this is the first time the Department of Education has released such a list, but it doesn’t come as a surprise since President Obama has brought the issue of sexual abuse in college and in the military to the forefront of his administration. Education Secretary Arnie Duncan wanted to make it clear that by releasing the names of schools under investigation there is no presumption of guilt; the release is simply a way to start a national conversation about this very serious and chronic problem.
The list of colleges and universities under investigation run the gamut from Ivy League Universities like Yale and Harvard; to esteemed state universities like Florida State University and University of North Carolina. Many private institutions such as Boston University and University of Chicago are also included in the long list of schools.
“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,” Catherine E. Lhamon, the assistant education secretary for civil rights, said, according to the New York Times.
The list was preceded by a report in which the White House outlined their recommendations colleges and universities can adopt to stop rape and sexual assaults on campus. Schools are urged to conduct anonymous surveys to determine the prevalence of sexual abuse and adopt effective policies utilized by other universities. The New York Times reported that the president will likely ask Congress to act as well and pass legislation that would enforce policies and attach financial penalties for violations.
“Colleges and universities need to face the facts about sexual assault,” Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said. “No more turning a blind eye or pretending it doesn’t exist. We need to give victims the support they need, like a confidential place to go, and we need to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
The pressure to address and handle rape, assault and harassment has been ratcheting up on colleges and universities. There have been far too many reports of colleges allowing harassers and abusers get away with their behavior while the victims are ignored, disregarded or threatened. Hopefully, the release of this list will compel schools to take meaningful action.