President Obama created the White House Task Force to protect students from sexual assault in an effort to curb the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses.
The task force, created on Jan. 22, is comprised of government officials whom have 90 days to complete their work and forward recommendations to prevent and respond to crimes of sexual assault.
The objectives of the task force are to provide educational institutions with the best practices for preventing and responding to rape and sexual assault, build on the federal government’s enforcement efforts to ensure that educational institutions comply fully with their legal obligations and improve transparency of the government’s enforcement activities.
Furthermore, this task force is designed to increase the public’s awareness of an institution’s track record in addressing rape, Gail Trimpe-Morrow, coordinator of the ISU sexual assault prevention and survivor service, said.
Before the task force was initiated, colleges and universities had been required to provide educational awareness programs and training to faculty, staff and students on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
One in five college women are likely to be victims of sexual assault or an attempted sexual assault during her college years. About six percent of college men are victims of sexual assault.
“Report rates of such violence are low, and prosecution of these cases is difficult and often not pursued,” Trimpe-Morrow said.
“My role is to provide survivors with the ongoing support, information and additional resources needed for their recovery.”
ISU has a vast network of services to support survivors of sexual assault. Some of these services include Student Counseling Services and Student Health Services.
The Office of Equal Opportunity Ethics and Access is the office that receives reports of sexual assault.
Survivors can also suffer from a wide range of mental health problems including depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a significant issue for many survivors, Trimpe-Morrow said.
Therefore, it is always important to talk with someone about the assault. Ignoring the situation can lead to unwanted negative effects in the future.
A few risk-reduction strategies for situations of sexual assault include limiting the use of alcohol, going out in groups and returning home in groups. The sober buddy system is effective too.
“Illinois State University has been actively addressing this issue for many years, and was voluntarily undertaking many of the educational, intervention and procedural directives long before it was required by the state and federal governments,” Trimpe-Morrow said. “There is always a need to do more.”