New effort begins to curb sexual violence

Mary Joan Nastri, Staff Writer

On Jan. 2014, the White House Task Force on Campus Sexual Assault published a report titled, “Not Alone,” for colleges and universities in an effort to confront the multiple incidences of sexual violence on campuses.

According to the Wisconsin Coalition of Sexual Assault (WCASA) organization in Madison, which started in 1985, campus sexual assaults are underreported compared to other data on sexual violence. is also a website where students find guidelines on how to support survivors of this crime. You can also file a complaint against a school for not providing the necessary help after the crime.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that violent sexual acts on campus are not reported more. The survivor may believe nothing will be done about it, or sadly but most often, blame themselves for the incident. The survivor can be male or female, although, the statistics are higher for females. The Not Alone report cites 1 in 5 students are affected, however, the number is likely higher due to the number of unreported incidences.

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security & Campus Crimes Statistics Act, implemented in 1991, states that recipient schools that receive financial aid from the federal government must submit their campus’ security policies and report all incidences of murder, sexual assault, rape etc., on campus, and nearby the campus, to the federal government.

The act is named after the Clerys’ daughter who was raped and killed in her dorm room, by an unfamiliar, fellow student, in 1986. The family’s grief over this tragedy moved them to make a change. The family was disturbed by the lack of involvement from local police and the failure of the school officials to send out warnings, campus-wide, after the crime was committed.

Madison College has recently released its mandatory campus security policies and plans to report on campus sexual assaults in the coming year.

The Clery Act and Title IX (protection for students against sexual discrimination), including new guidelines from the DOE’s Civil Rights Office, describes student’s rights, the school’s responsibilities in responding to the crime and other guidelines to help survivors and their families.

Early this year, Scott Walker inserted a proposal in his budget to eliminate state reporting of sexual violence incidents. He reported that the University of Wisconsin made the request because of the duplication of reporting to the federal government under the Jeanne Clery Act.

WCASA published a press release on Feb. 27, suggesting that the state’s report should be enhanced and not eliminated. The proposal was taken out of the budget after many expressed concerns over the proposal.

The White House Task Force is aggressively getting the information out to campuses all over the country, with school visits by Joe Biden who implemented the Violence Against Women act when he was a senator. The task force has also partnered with Rutgers University School of Social Work to create campus climate surveys. This pilot will be constantly updating the surveys to help understand better ways a particular school can best make changes.

An official at the WCASA called the Not Alone report and campus surveys “real positives” in this movement to make campuses safe places to learn and grow.

The White House Task Force is working on sharing the necessary information to help this come to fruition. The task force is also planning a public service announcement which says, if there is no consent, or consent can’t be given, then, it’s a crime.

This fight against sexual assault and what consensual means is not new. Bette Barnes, an emeritus lecturer at Center for Health Education at the University of Wisconsin, chaired a committee in the mid to late 1980s that gave voice to sexual violence and discrimination campus-wide. Although, the current measures the federal government is taking is positive, she believes there is still much to be done.