Women's Law Center: colleges will be safer due to sexual assault recommendations

 Last week, the Obama administration released extensive guidelines designed to combat sexual assault on college campuses and help survivors. It recommends, among other things, that schools identify trained, confidential victim’s advocates and conduct surveys about sexual assault on their campuses.  Federal agencies will help develop training programs that will address both the prevention and handling of sexual assault.  A new website, notalone.gov, will post enforcement actions and offer information to victims about how to connect with community resources and about their rights under the law.


Following is a statement by Fatima Goss Graves, Vice-President for Education and Employment at the non-profit National Women’s Law Center:

“The confusing array of ineffective policies that many schools rely on have left far too many students unprotected from sexual assault. [The] comprehensive recommendations are a critical step in the right direction to make colleges safer places for all students. The Administration's commitment to increase resources to help colleges and universities develop and implement prevention programs – and assist in effectively handling sexual assault when it occurs – sends a powerful message to everyone: sexual assault will no longer be swept under the rug or tolerated.”
 
In a related move, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released a list of the higher education institutions under investigation for possible violations over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The 55 schools on the list range from public universities, including Ohio State and the University of California-Berkeley, to private schools such as Swarthmore College. Harvard and Princeton are on the list, along with Michigan State University and University of Michigan.

The schools appear based on a wide range of complaints. For example, it a student group lodged the complaint against U of M.

“We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our... work and foster better public awareness of civil rights,” Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said. The OCR stresses that its main goal is to enure institutions are in compliance, and that inclusion on the list is not an indication that the college or university has violated the law.