Federal Agencies Respond to Campus Sexual Violence

By Nowmee Shehab

As Spring arrives, bushes and benches across Emory’s campus are festooned with teal ribbons and balloons to mark Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Emory’s efforts join a nationwide plan to observe SAAM by raising public awareness about sexual violence and educating communities on how to prevent it. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center coordinates these widespread efforts and actively collaborates with local and national anti-violence organizations.

This past year has been an incredible one for awareness and organizing around sexual violence prevention, and Emory’s efforts are accompanied by a huge push on the federal level. So what exactly is new at the federal level? I did a quick round-up of important federal legislation and campaigns that have together moved the national conversation forward.

  • The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault published Not Alone, its first report, which details best practices for preventing and responding to campus sexual violence. President Obama launched the It’s On Us campaign which created national attention for campus sexual violence prevention through PSAs and pooled partner organizations to amplify this message. Here is a PSA that features both President Obama and Vice President Biden  
  • Campus Save Act: This act, that updates the Clery Act improves transparency by requiring schools to report a broader range of sexual violence incidents occurring on campus, while also improving the complaint process so victims know their rights and are supported.
  • Department of Education released a Q&A document that described new guidance for colleges on what school policies on sexual violence need to include in order for institutions to be Title IX compliant. It emphasized a need for more uniform adjudication processes and greater accountability in those processes. In addition the DoE’s Office of Civil Rights published a list of higher education institutions with open Title IX investigations.
  • Campus Accountability and Safety Act. A bipartisan group of 12 Senators has proposed the Campus Accountability & Safety Act to protect students and boost accountability and transparency at colleges and universities.

All of this national attention and advocacy would not have been possible without the brave advocacy of survivors of sexual violence who told their stories, and amazing student-led organizations like Know Your IX and SAFER.

Every year SAAM promotes its message through social media by using hashtags. Join them! Follow #SAAM2015 and #It’sTimeToAct and #SaferCampusesBrighterFutures

Photo Credit: NewsWeek 

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