Advocates Against Campus Sexual Assault Encouraged By White House InitiativeBy Russell Westerholm, UniversityHerald Reporter
Dana Bolger, a recent Amherst College graduate, found out she had an ally in the fight to end sexual assault on campuses nationwide when the White House gave her a call.
President Barack Obama announced a task force Wednesday with the purpose of making recommendations to stop sexual assault on college campuses. Along with the announcement was a report stating women living on a college campus are more likely to be sexually assaulted than anyone else.
"The administration has clearly heard our plea, and I'm hopeful we'll see real change on our campuses as a result," Bolger told The Huffington Post.
She spoke with a White House staff member who mentioned Ed Act Now, a group Bolger works with to push the federal government toward holding schools accountable for the way they respond to rape allegations. The task force has 90 days to come up with recommendations for how schools should respond to reports of sexual violence, add to existing law enforcement efforts and spread awareness.
One statistic the report highlighted was that an average of one in five women on a college campus experiences sexual violence. The task force's members include Education secretary Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Duncan and the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) have fielded several complaints from victims who allege their school did not properly handle their sexual assault claims. The most common types of violations OCR investigates is the Clery Act, a federal law requiring schools to release a campus crime transparency report, and Title IX, the federal gender equality law.
"We have seen progress, including an inspiring wave of student-led activism, and a growing number of students who found the courage to come forward and report attacks," Obama said, of the report, the HP reported. "That's exactly what we want them to do. And we owe all these brave young people an extraordinary debt of gratitude."
Alexandra Brodsky, a Yale Law School student, was one of 16 students to file a complaint against their school in 2011. The school was not penalized too harshly and Brodsky said that is one thing that needs to change.
"The task force is not an end in itself," said Brodsky. "We have not stopped sexual assault because Obama said something on TV, but it is a tremendous step in the right direction."