Boulder, CO- Last year, the federal agencies tackled sexual harassment on college campuses. Now President Obama is taking on sexual assault on campus through a new initiative which calls for a task force to come up with solutions to an issue that affects millions of students each year.
Sexual assaults on college campus are far too prevalent. One in five college age women reported being sexually assaulted at least once during their college life and 7 percent of college men admitting they had rape or assaulted a fellow student.
“I think that conviction and that passion brings us all here today — because this is not an abstract problem that goes on in other families or other communities,” he said in a speech to the White House Council of Women and Girls. “Even now, it’s not always talked about enough. It can still go on in the shadows. But it affects every one of us.”
The President signed a memorandum Wednesday which calls for the creation of a task force to protect students from sexual assault. This new task force will work on fostering a culture of cooperation between federal agencies that handle campus harassment and assault and college campuses. The task force will have 90 days to come up with recommendations for colleges to prevent and respond to sexual assault, the AP reported. They will ask develop ways to increase public awareness and hold schools accountable if they don’t respond appropriately to a complaint.
A report, which was obtained by the Associated Press, was released in conjunction with the announcement of the new initiative. The report entitled, “Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action,” showed that close to 22 million women and 1.6 million men have been raped at least once in their lifetime.
The report says rape is most prevalent on college campuses because of widespread use of drugs and alcohol. It said that college women are in more danger of being assaulted than in any other facet of society.
Even though college sexual assaults are far too common reporting it is not. According to the White House report, only 12 percent of college students who are assaulted or raped actually report the incidents to law enforcement. Reporting rates for all American women is estimated to be 36 percent, according to the Daily Tar Heel.
The report calls out law enforcement urging them to take allegations more seriously by investigating and prosecuting the perpetrators. Victims of rape and assault are often reluctant to come forward because of the lax or unbelieving responses they get from police and school officials. The initiative also called on law enforcement agencies to train officers how to investigate sexual assaults and increased DNA testing of samples collected from victims.
The report also discussed the effects sexual assault has on the victim, stating that many victims become depressed, have issues with substance abuse, and suffer a range of health issues including diabetes and chronic pain.