White House to colleges: take steps to prevent sex assault

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. - The White House is now cracking down on sexual assault on campuses across the country. If they don't comply, it could cost the campuses millions of dollars.

The Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, which President Obama formed in January, wants to tackle a growing number of allegations of sexual assault that has gained widespread attention in the past few years.

The task force, lead by Vice President Joe Biden and the White House Council on Women and Girls, asked assault survivors, college administrators and others for ideas on how to address the one in five women sexually assaulted in college.

The White House is asking every college to conduct student surveys about campus and student safety.
Some local colleges, like Johnson County Community College, are already put the wheels in motion.

Anticipating the federal changes, Johnson County Community College already surveyed students and asked about the definition of consent. Only 50 percent of the students who responded knew  the correct definition.

The task force is considering mandating the student survey in 2016; colleges could lose federal funding if they don't comply.

The White House task force also wants schools to implement prevention programs, educate students about the "buddy system".

JCCC's Counseling Chairwoman Alicia Bredehoeft, said, "for most people of sexual assault it is very important that they reach out for recovery."

The task force also recommended campuses identify trained victim advocates, offer confidentiality reporting for victims and increase the punishment for sexual predators.

JCCC Dean of Student Services, Paul Kyle, gave an example.

"Say they have a personal class and we can say you're off of campus until we investigate with no contact," he said.

"I believe it will make a difference to hear the repetition of information in the classroom," Bredehoeft said.

But some students aren't so sure that the federal government's information campaign will actually change student behavior.

"If you're wasted, you're going to do whatever you want to do and not think about it," one JCCC student said.

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