White House task force releases resources for college sex assault prevention

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A White House task force released two publications Thursday that are intended to address the problem of sexual assault on college campuses across the nation.

The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, which focuses on preventing sexual assault and providing support for survivors, released a resource guide and a resource kit called “Safe Place” to give campuses resources and tools to prevent and respond to sexual violence and assault. The documents are intended largely for health workers and administration, as opposed to students.

“(The guides) are one of many tools and resources that the University of California utilizes in our efforts to meet the goals of the president’s task force on preventing and responding to sexual violence and sexual assault,” said UC Office of the President spokesperson Rebecca Trounson. “We use all of these resources in our efforts to create a culture on UC campuses where sexual violence (and) sexual assault are not tolerated.”

The resource guide emphasizes that a “ ‘one size fits all’ approach is not intended” and that campuses are not required to follow these guidelines or use the presented tools. “Safe Place” is described as a “toolkit” that provides health center staff with links to training and guides that will help them incorporate “trauma-sensitive practice” into their current handling of sexual assault cases.

ASUC Student Advocate Leah Romm said that while these resources might not directly help students as of now, they will eventually prove to be beneficial.

“The response that a student got two or three years ago when they were in a situation of having been sexually assaulted versus the response that they’re getting now, I think, has already improved,” Romm said. “With tools like these, maybe down the line, in a year or two years, we’re going to see just a completely different and significantly improved response from administration in these situations.”

Amid a national discussion on college administrations’ response to sexual assault, the campus has also worked to improve measures to address the issues at hand. Earlier this month, the ASUC Senate met in an attempt to appoint a new sexual assault commission director.

Getting the topic out there is progress in itself, said campus sophomore Marisa McConnell, assistant director of the ASUC Sexual Assault Commission.

Ruth Rosen, a visiting professor in the campus’s department of history who specializes in women and sexuality in the 20th century, said she was ambivalent as to whether the publications would improve sexual assault response on campus.

“There’s more talk, but does (the way we address sexual assault) get better? I don’t know,” Rosen said. “But there’s certainly more conversation about it now.”

Contact Ericka Shin and Anderson Lanham at [email protected].