We've already made some pretty major strides this year against the huge sexual assault problem at U.S. colleges and universities. New bills being proposed in California to push schools to report incidents of assault are promising. And, yesterday, the President sat down with cabinet officials and senior advisers to discuss—and take action against—sexual assaults on college campuses nationwide. I don't know about you, but the first thing that ran through my mind was, It's about time.
Rapes and assaults on campuses are still widely underreported. According to a report released yesterday by the White House Council for Women and Girls, one in five women is sexually assaulted while she's in college. (If you include attempted rape, according to a study by the Justice Department, that number jumps to one infour. Just...wow.)
After a broad review of the progress (or lack thereof) made against sexual assaults nationwide, the President signed a memorandum creating the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault. Thetask force of senior administrative officials will coordinate federal enforcement efforts to hold schools accountable if they do not confront sexual violence on campus.
Rape and sexual assault on campuses has been an issue that many colleges and universities tend to want toignore or sweep under the rug. After all, these schools are still businesses, and reporting violent incidents makes them appear less attractive and safe to prospective students and parents.
I'd like to change that thinking and am glad to see that the President agrees. After all, by not dealing with this issue head-on, schools create a campus culture that looks the other way and allows these assaults to happen.