White House to Establish Task Force on Student Sexual Assault

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that his administration is creating a task force designed to address the prevalence of rape and sexual assault at U.S. institutions of higher education.

According to the president’s memorandum, reports indicate that college and university compliance with federal sexual assault laws is uneven and inadequate. “Building on existing enforcement efforts, we must strengthen and address compliance issues and provide institutions with additional tools to respond to and address rape and sexual assault,” said the president.

The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault will be comprised of the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Education, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, the Cabinet Secretary and the heads of agencies or offices as the co-chairs may designate. Its goal is to develop a coordinated federal response to campus rape and sexual assault.

Some of the goals of the task force will include:

  • providing institutions with evidence-based best and promising practices for preventing and responding to rape and sexual assault;
  • building on the Federal Government’s existing enforcement efforts to ensure that institutions comply fully with their legal obligations to prevent and respond to rape and sexual assault;
  • increasing the transparency of the Federal Government’s enforcement activities concerning rape and sexual assault, consistent with applicable law and the interests of affected students;
  • broadening the public’s awareness of individual institutions’ compliance with their legal obligation to address rape and sexual assault; and
  • facilitating coordination among agencies engaged in addressing rape and sexual assault and those charged with helping bring institutions into compliance with the law.

The memorandum states that the task force will meet with other stakeholders, including officials from institutions, student groups, parents, athletics and educations associations, rape crisis centers and law enforcement agencies.

The task force will also evaluate how their findings could apply to elementary and secondary schools.

Read the memorandum.

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Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

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