This post was written with the help of Alison D. Kahler.
Joe Biden may have just changed the way college life is now.
This week, the Vice President unveiled NotAlone.gov, a new government website that gives students and colleges tools to fight sexual assault on college campuses. He also gave a report by a White House task force with suggestions for colleges. This was the start of a large, multi-year effort to make college campuses safer for students.
In general, this is a huge step forward. The White House’s support gives the problem of rape and sexual assault on college campuses more weight. Biden’s personal support could make a big difference in culture, especially in a time when women’s health and safety are often ignored. Everyone needs to pay attention and do something about this move. Neither people who work in higher education nor the general public can keep ignoring this problem.
Find out how big of a problem sexual assault is on college campuses; help stop it from happening; help schools respond well when a student is attacked;
The federal government should make its efforts to review and enforce Title IX better and more open.
These goals are important for making colleges safer for students, and they all come with a clear, if preliminary, plan of action for all schools to follow.
First, because it’s essential to make a long-term plan that takes into account the nature and frequency of rape and sexual assault on campus (most of which aren’t reported), the report includes a link to a “toolkit” that allows every college to do a Campus Climate Survey to see where it needs to improve.
Second, the report describes some early ways to stop violence, such as educating bystanders. There is a lot of talk about how important it is to turn men into allies. A PSA called “1 is 2” came out at the same time. Many use well-known actors to get this point across. The White House is right to think that preventing sexual violence is everyone’s job. This helps dispel the dangerous myth that telling women “don’t get raped” is the best way to stop it.