Colleges and universities need to make campuses safer for women and provide better resources for the survivors of sexual assault, Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday while announcing new initiatives aimed at preventing violence against women.
“Colleges and universities can no longer turn a blind eye or pretend rape or sexual assault does not occur on campus,” Biden said.
Biden announced a series of actions the administration plans to take to combat sexual assault on college campuses. A 20-page report was released this week based on the findings from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.
The vice president said college administrators have been hesitant to report cases of assault for fear of harming the school’s reputation.
“I get it,” Biden said. “But it doesn’t matter.”
During his remarks, the vice president told the story of a young woman who was pulled into a dorm room and raped by a man she knew. It was one of several testimonials about college women being assaulted and then struggling to get justice.
Before Biden spoke, a survivor of sexual assault who attended Harvard also shared her story about the difficulties she had holding her attacker accountable.
“Maybe one of the most difficult things you, who have been involved in this fight and cause for so long, have had to do was try to fight against the notion that it was ever ever ever ever under and circumstance the woman’s fault,” Biden said.
A major component of the announcement was the launch of NotAlone.gov, a website where enforcement data will be published as well as provide students resources about their rights.
The administration plans to provide schools with an anonymous “campus climate survey” to gauge the prevalence of the crime, which administration officials and experts say is underreported. National statistics find one in five women is sexually assaulted in college.
The Justice Department will also develop training programs for campus officials investigating possible sexual assaults and adjudicating the cases.
Biden also called on men to be part of the solution by supporting survivors and speaking up if they see someone in danger of being assaulted.
The White House released a PSA featuring male celebrities to coincide with the announcement that encouraged males to "be part of the solution."
First published April 29 2014, 12:46 PM