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Obama & Biden Refuse to Visit Universities That Mishandle Sexual Assault Cases

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In response to increasing public awareness of the issue of rape and sexual assault on college campuses, President Obama and Vice President Biden said they will no longer visit universities that mishandle or ignore these cases.

According to a new White House policy, Obama, Biden, their wives and members of the Cabinet will not be visiting schools that are known for ignoring sexual misconduct issues, The Washington Post reports. This is just another step the White House is taking to show that there needs to be a better system for dealing with these problems on campus.

The White House has worked much harder in recent years to bring attention to the way sexual assault and domestic violence are being dealt with on campuses across the country. In 2014, they launched the Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. Now, Biden has even told The Post in an interview that he would go so far as to take away federal support from colleges that have failed to step up their game in dealing with sexual misconduct. 

According to the Huffington Post, the Obama administration is looking specifically for improvements in reporting and disciplinary processes. This includes how easy it is for victims to report sexual assault, along with how seriously and thoroughly a school investigates such reports. 

Out of the 11,000 schools in the U.S. required to report sexual assault data, 91 percent did not report a single occurrence last year. In January 2016, a study done by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showed that one in five female students experience sexual violence by the time they graduate. This number vastly conflicts with the self-reported data by the colleges and universities, making it likely that instances of campus sexual assault and domestic violence are going largely unreported or ignored. 

Biden, spokesperson of the It's On Us campaign to prevent sexual assault, wrote a letter to the victim of the Brock Turner case expressing his outrage at the way our culture treats sexual assault cases. "I am filled with furious anger—both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken that you were ever put in the position of defending your own worth," Biden wrote. "You were failed by a culture on our college campuses where one in five women is sexually assaulted—year after year after year. A culture that promotes passivity. That encourages young men and women on campuses to simply turn a blind eye." 

His statement summarized the feelings that much of the country shared at the outcome of Turner's case. 

The commitment of the White House to change the way we look at sexual assault has made at least a little bit of progress, though. The Post notes that the Department of Education is conducting 253 ongoing investigations at 198 colleges and universities, focusing on how sexual violence cases are handled on campus. This is almost five times as many as the Department looked at two years ago.

Many schools have already put steps into place that simplify the process of reporting sexual misconduct. They are also lowering the burden of proof for such cases, so that victims do not need to provide an unreasonable amount of evidence in order to prove than disciplinary action should be taken against perpetrators.

There is still a lot of criticism across the country, citing concerns that the government is too involved in the decisions of colleges and universities regarding sexual misconduct. But the work that President Obama and Vice President Biden has definitely made progress for preventing on-campus sexual assault.


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