HEY IMPORTANT THING. I just got this email:
BIG NEWS: President Obama just announced that he is taking major action against sexual assault by creating a presidential task force to fight rape on college campuses.1
Having the President on our side is huge at a moment when sexual assault on college campuses has reached an epidemic level. Right now, 1 in 5 women will be assaulted or raped during college.2
For over a year now, the UltraViolet community—that’s you!—has been taking action together to tackle rape culture and stand up for survivors. Together with our allies, we’ve helped bring the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses into the spotlight and called on the Administration to address it.
That’s why the White House wants to know what solutions YOU want to see. As an advocate who has spoken out for survivors before, your input is valuable. This is a major opportunity to be heard by the President and White House.
Can you take 3 minutes to fill out a short, easy survey about what you think the Presidential Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault should do? We’ll deliver your response to the White House next week.
Presidential commissions have a mixed record—some have faded into historical footnotes, while others have changed the course of our country’s history. For example, President Reagan’s HIV/AIDS task force led to increased funding for drug trials and an end to federal discrimination against those who are HIV-positive.3
We know that searches for solutions to sexual assault and rape can end up victim-blaming instead of holding attackers accountable. It’s why we’re bombarded by media figures that blame alcohol, twerking, and teenage naivete for rape instead of the rapists.4 And just last year, campus after campus—from Yale to USC—was called out for mishandling rape cases.5
When colleges don’t take rape accusations seriously, it discourages survivors from reporting. Only 12% of survivors report the assault, and it’s more often the survivors rather than their attackers who drop out of school.6
A federal task force will create uniform guidelines that colleges should follow to stop sexual assault and punish rapists. Data and research is helpful, but input from citizens who care and know about the problem is critical to finding the right solutions.
Last year, Ultraviolet members spoke out and demanded the Department of Education start holding campuses accountable for failing to uphold Title IX—the federal law that bans sexual discrimination in education, including sexual assault. From Steubenville, Ohio, and Maryville, Missouri, to Yale University, you’ve spoken out time and again to demand justice for survivors who have been swept aside by school authorities, law enforcement, and their communities. Now the President himself is demanding more be done, and he wants to hear from you.
Take 3 minutes to let the White House know what you want the student sexual assault task force to work on.
Thanks for speaking out.
—Nita, Shaunna, Kat, Karin, Malinda, Adam, and Gabriela, the UltraViolet team
Share any stories, even from friends or even if you haven’t actually been assaulted. Like I was actually stalked by and sent very vulgar and graphic messages from a male classmate more than twice my age when I was in college, and the school did nothing to protect me other than tell the man to stop talking to me, and it was the third time he’d done that to female classmates. I literally had to have someone chaperone me to and from my car because I was so scared of this guy.