White House Raises the Bar for Colleges’ Handling of Sexual Assault

The Obama administration unveiled stringent new guidelines on Tuesday designed to help colleges combat sexual assault and provide victims with a “road map” to file complaints against institutions that fall short in their responses.

In 20 pages of recommendations, the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault provides practical instructions for colleges to identify, prevent, and respond to sexual assault. And it prescribes several steps to improve and bring more transparency to federal enforcement of applicable civil-rights laws.

President Obama created the group in January, promising a coordinated federal response to deal with rape and sexual assault on campuses. The group’s membership includes the U.S. attorney general and the leaders of several other cabinet-level agencies, including the Departments of Defense and Education.

The task force’s report comes at a time when students are driving the debate over how colleges should prevent and respond to sexual assault. Over the past year, activists and rape survivors across the country have publicly faulted colleges—which are legally required to respond to reports of sexual assault—for what they see as inadequate responses. In many cases, the students have filed complaints under the federal civil-rights law known as Title IX. <Read more.>

Via Libby Sander, The Chronicle of Higher Education.