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Obama forms federal sexual assault task force to protect students

Assistant News Editor

Published: Monday, January 27, 2014

Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 23:01

President Barack Obama announced plans for a sexual assault task force to combat on-campus assaults across the United States during last week’s weekly address.

The task force is slated to act as an advisory board on issues of campus rape and sexual assault, and will affect every college campus in U.S., according to a memorandum sent out by the president.

According to the memorandum, the task force will begin issuing “proposals and recommendations” to the president within 90 days from Wednesday.

The founding of the task force was said to have been in response to a study conducted by the White House, that found that one in five women in the U.S. is a victim of sexual assault.

The task force is set to develop protocol and program recommendations to decrease on-campus assaults. They have also been given the responsibility of measuring the success of prevention to determine how to maximize the Federal government’s effectiveness in combatting assault.

This task force will work with Title IX, which “requires institutions that receive federal funding to work to prevent such incidents – and to respond quickly when they occur,” according to US News.

Sam Houston State University Dean of Students John Yarabeck said he agrees with the memorandum and supports the national effort to make college campuses safer.

“We are supporters of anything that makes our campus safer,” Yarabeck said. “Like anything that can be taken to extremes, there is the potential for people to make it impossible for us to enforce the new policies, but on the same token, anything safer for SHSU is worth doing.”

Yarabeck said the expectation is to improve the environment for victims of sexual assault and attempt to remove the stigmas associated with being the victim of sexual assault.

“The biggest challenge will be creating an environment where victims can come forward,” Yarabeck said. “There has always been a stigma attached [to victims,] and that is a very difficult thing to overcome.”

The task force will submit a report to the president for evaluation by January 2015.

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