Advocate Laura Dunn, who founded the group SurvJustice, said there's "definitely a lot of joy in the community that confidentiality is being taken seriously," but she wished that the recommendations emphasized enforcement consequences for perpetrators.
In addition to recommending that schools have a victim advocate, the task force provides to schools a sample reporting and confidentiality protocol and asks that, as a minimum, schools make clear "up front, who on campus will (or will not) share what information with whom."
Ada Meloy, general counsel at the American Council on Education said it's a complicated matter to try to satisfy a victim's sensitive feelings and at the same time comply with legal reporting requirements, and it's one in which her association representing colleges and universities raised with the task force. She said she is now reviewing all the information but that presidents would likely be applying "the best" of the recommendations.
The task force, appointed by President Barack Obama in January, was making its recommendations following a 90-day review that included dozens of in-person and online meetings with victims, advocates and higher education representatives. It was made up of Obama's Cabinet members, including Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder.
"Colleges and universities need to face the facts about sexual assault — no more turning a blind eye or pretending it doesn't exist," said Vice President Joe Biden, who was to make remarks Tuesday when the task force findings were released. "We need to give victims the support they need — like a confidential place to go — and we need to bring the perpetrators to justice."
While 1 in 5 female students is assaulted, the White House said in announcing the task force that the review was also about protecting male victims and engaging men in discussions about preventing such assaults.