Following more than 4 months of research and analysis of sexual assault cases and effective practices, on April 29, 2014, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault released a report, Not Alone, to provide guidelines and recommendations to protect students from violence and improve how colleges handle such cases. The report encourages colleges to demonstrate that they understand the seriousness of student sexual assault by voluntarily conducting a campus climate survey and following recommendations to protect students and respond to survivors of assault. Those recommendations include creating a bystander intervention program on campus, developing and having in place a campus plan to effectively respond when a student is sexually assaulted, and improving and making enforcement more transparent.
In addition to access to the task force report and recommendations, a new website, Not Alone, provides tools to assist colleges with implementing the recommendations as well as resources for students. The website will serve as the conduit for delivery of new information as the task force continues its work.
Future efforts of the task force—which includes the attorney general, the secretary of education, and the secretary of health and human services—include reviewing various laws and regulations for possible improvement, tapping campus security for their special expertise, consideration of mandating that colleges conduct campus climate surveys in 2016, and expanding efforts to include public elementary and secondary schools.
In addition to recommendations for colleges, the report reminds readers that Title IX protects all students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status or disability; survivors of sexual assault have a right to expect their college to protect and support them, including when an investigation is pending, and the Clery Act amendments do not alter a college’s responsibility under Title IX to respond to and prevent sexual violence.
On the same day of the release of the task force report, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released new guidance for colleges to address sexual assault and clarified college responsibilities under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
View a more detailed listing of the action steps for colleges and task force recommendations as well as AACC talking points. For more information, contact Roxanne Fulcher, director, health professions policy at AACC.