The Associated Press reports that President Obama on Wednesday will launch a initiative aimed at combating sexual assault on college campuses, three months after several UConn students filed a federal discrimination complaint that accuses the school of inadequately investigating and responding to reported rapes and sexual assaults.
The president is creating a task force that will study how universities can take measures to prevent and respond to sexual assault. The administrative panel also will focus on how each institution has addressed the issue in the past, and develop ways the federal government can hold schools accountable for their track record.
The Title IX complaint filed against UConn last October includes allegations that perpetrators’ sanctions were lifted and that university police shrugged off complaints and questioned the credibility of victims of sexual assault. A fifth student since has joined the plaintiffs. The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages for the plaintiffs who suffered as a result of UConn’s “deliberate indifference” to the issue, and asks the court to order UConn to revise its policies and procedures.
Sen. Blumenthal praised the president’s action on the issue, and said in a statement, “sexual violence is not a women’s issue; it is a societal issue. Particularly significant in this call to action is engaging men as ‘influencers’ of other men – role models leading by example to discourage and deter sexual assault and violence.”