Administration Seeks to Raise Awareness of Campus Sexual Assault
(CNSNews.com) - Deputy Attorney General James Cole says he and other administration officials plan to visit "a dozen schools across the country" in the weeks ahead, "to raise awareness of campus sexual assault."
Today was the first stop, as Cole met with students and faculty at Gallaudet University, a school for the hearing impaired in Washington, D.C.
"Many schools are working every day to fight intimate partner and sexual violence on campus and to train young people about how to prevent and report this type of activity," Cole said.
"We want to make sure that survivors everywhere know that they have a place – and a voice. Survivors have this administration’s commitment to build toward a future where domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking and teen dating violence are eradicated."
In January, President Obama established a White House task force to protect students from sexual assault. The White House said schools participating in federal student financial aid must set up prevention programs as well as victim support services and investigation procedures.
"While we believe that the federal government has an important role to play, we also know that the government alone cannot stop violence on campus," Cole said on Thursday. "It is essential to develop campus-based coordinated responses that include campus victim services; campus law enforcement; health providers; housing officials; administrators; student leaders; faith-based organizations; student organizations; and disciplinary boards.
Cole said the upcoming campus tours are intended to highlight groups that have received Justice Department (taxpayer) grants to develop "coordinated community response teams to comprehensively address sexual assault on their campus."
In response to Obama's call for action, Dartmouth College, for example, recently announced that a "strengthened" sexual assault policy will take effect in June. Among other things, an outside investigator will handle all complaints, and culprits in "the most egregious cases" will be expelled.
Dartmouth also has established a new Center for Community Action and Prevention, "dedicated to sexual assault prevention and response."
More than 1,200 undergraduates already have received training to "recognize" sexual assault and intervene when necessary. And this summer, Dartmouth will host a major national conference on sexual assault.
In an April 16 speech announcing the new policy, Dartmouth President Phil Hanlon ’77 said Dartmouth’s future was “being highjacked by extreme behavior."
"The list of offenses is familiar," he said. "From sexual assaults on campus, to a culture where dangerous drinking has become the rule and not the exception, to a general disregard for human dignity as exemplified by hazing, parties with racist and sexist undertones, disgusting and sometimes threatening insults hurled on the internet --to a social scene that is too often at odds with the practices of inclusion that students are right to expect on a college campus in 2014."
He said it was "time for a change."