The Obama administration announced a series of steps to reduce the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses, including pushing colleges and universities to become more transparent in their reporting of incidents, reports USA Today. Vice President Joe Biden today will formally unveil the report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. It details plans to launch the website called NotAlone.gov — where enforcement data will be published — as well as an effort to require colleges and universities to conduct anonymous surveys of their student bodies by 2016 to get a better understanding of how frequently incidents happen on campus.
The White House is calling on colleges and universities to conduct surveys in 2015 and says it will explore legislative or administrative options to make it mandatory for schools to conducting the surveys in 2016. “Colleges and universities need to face the facts about sexual assault,” Biden said. “No more turning a blind eye or pretending it doesn’t exist. We need to give victims the support they need — like a confidential place to go — and we need to bring the perpetrators to justice.” The Department of Education will provide schools with new guidance that clarifies that on-campus counselors — such as those who work or volunteer at sexual assault centers and pastoral counselors — can talk to victims of assault in confidence. The confidentiality issue has become an issue on some campuses in recent years, with some schools saying counselors and advocates cannot always maintain confidentiality.