The White House issued new guidelines on Monday intended to pressure college campuses to take action against sexual assault on campus. The recommendations urge colleges to investigate sexual assault on campus via anonymous surveys, to enact policies proven to prevent assaults from occurring and to ensure that victims can report crimes confidentially. The guidelines come on the heels of several highly publicized sexual assault cases at Yale, Dartmouth, Florida State and other schools. A White House-appointed task force charged with investigating sexual assault on college campuses found that although 1 in 5 female students are victims of sexual assault, only 12 percent of the attacks are reported. According to the New York Times: The report emphasizes that universities need to do a better job to make sure that sexual assault reports remain confidential. Sometimes fears that reports will become public can discourage victims from coming forward. The task force further found that many assault-prevention training efforts are not effective, and it recommends that universities and colleges institute programs … which train bystanders on how to intervene. Lawmakers and the White House have previously condemned the assaults on campuses, but the federal government has largely left responses up to college officials and the local authorities. The guidelines are just that—guidelines. They do not include any coercive measures. But they do outline a multipronged approach to combat rampant sexual assault on American campuses. And according to the Times, the White House is likely to pressure Congress into passing legislation to hold universities and colleges legally responsible for enforcing those measures.
Andrew Mortazavi is a Spring 2014 editorial intern. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewmortazavi.