The White House will release new guidelines on Tuesday to urge universities to handle sexual assaults more aggressively
and efficiently, The New York Times reported Monday night.
New guidelines, drafted by the task force President Barack Obama launched in January, will include recommendations for anonymous surveys of sexual assault cases every three years starting in 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported. The New York Times reported that the White House will likely call on Congress to make the survey mandatory, enforced legislatively or administratively.
Guidelines are a part of the broader report on sexual assaults. The New York Times said the report will also urge universities to ensure confidentiality of sexual assault reports and that assault prevention training programs will train bystanders on how to intervene.
The task force also plans to launch a web site called NotAlone.gov where enforcement data will be published, the Los Angeles Times reported.
At an appearance at UC Berkeley in early April, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, said she is planning to introduce federal legislation to strengthen the government’s efforts to combat sexual assault on university campuses. She, along with other legislators, also called for campus safety statistics to be included in the U.S. News & World Report’s annual college rankings.
The renewed push for more aggressive handling of sexual assaults comes after a series of high-profile cases in which students filed complaints against several universities alleging they mishandled cases of sexual assault. At UC Berkeley, 31 current and former students filed federal complaints against the university in late February, alleging officials have not pursued sexual assault cases aggressively enough.
The task force said that while one in five college students has been assaulted, only 12 percent of assaults are actually reported, The New York Times reported.
The UC also announced an expansion of its sexual violence and harassment policy in early March to meet the guidelines set by the 2013 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act.
The policy includes added definitions for behaviors that could constitute sexual violence and a specific definition of consent, defined as an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision.
The UC’s policy also expanded the role of Title IX officers and mandated campuses to identify resources where community members can get information about reporting a sexual harassment in a confidential manner.
No UC or UCLA officials were immediately available for a comment.
UCLA, UC Berkeley, California State University, Chico and San Diego State University are subjects of a current state audit for their sexual assault policies. UCLA also began an internal review of its policies and practices addressing sexual violence and harassment, according to a university statement released in November.
The task force is expected to provide policy recommendations on an annual basis.
Compiled by Jeong Park, Bruin contributor.