White House announces plan to end sexual assaults on campuses

Students are speaking out after a White House task force issued a plan to end sexual assaults on college campuses.
April 29, 2014 7:15:51 PM PDT
College women at UC Berkeley spoke up about sexual assaults earlier this year and now the White House is getting involved.

The Obama administration Tuesday announced new guidelines which include education outreach and a celebrity-packed public service announcement.

UC Berkeley students are reacting to the Obama administration's recommendations.

Some sexual assault survivors on the UC Berkeley campus told ABC7 News that Tuesday's announcement is an important first step, but there is still more to do before every campus and every student is safe.

"I was assaulted by two men in a fraternity," assault survivor Meghan Warner said.

Warner's experience is far too common. One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college. Typically in her freshman or sophomore year and in most cases by someone she knows.

On Tuesday, a White House task force announced a four-step plan to combat campus assaults. The plan included, to identify the scope of the problem, help prevent attacks, help schools respond effectively and improve enforcement efforts.

The Obama administration also launched the website NotAlone.gov to support survivors.

US Congresswoman Jackie Speier who has advocated for women on this issue released a response to the recommendations issued by the White House saying, "The quick actions taken by the White House to combat campus sexual assault are impressive. It is now up to Congress now to make the task force recommendations mandatory, so survivors know we have done all we can to prevent this national epidemic."

"I don't think that their statement today will make an immediate difference, but I think it's starting the conversation at a national level," Warner said.

"One of the things I thought was missing from the report is that there isn't an increase in funding to the Department of Education," sexual assault survivor Sofie Karasek said.

Karasek and several other survivors filed a federal complaint against UC Berkeley, claiming the school didn't do enough when they were assaulted.

She's worried without additional funding, the White House plan won't be enforced.

"We can look at the policy and say oh this policy is compliant with federal law, but in practice are these standards really being upheld?" Karasek said.

University of California President Janet Napolitano responded to the task force recommendations.

"I am pleased to see that all of the major categories are things that have already have been in the works at our university," Napolitano said.

Karasek and Warner feel there's still work to be done.

The fact that my fellow survivors and I still get shamed and harassed all the time is not okay and hopefully the ultimate goal will be that that goes away also," Warner said.

A goal more attainable by the awareness raised on Tuesday.


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