Not Alone: The First Report of the White House Task Force

Not Alone Whitehouse Report

Posted on 20 August 2014 |


April 2014 --  The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (the Task Force) has published its first report on how the government plans to comprehensively address the issue of sexual violence on college campuses. At all stages of the report the LGBTQ student population was included – Title IX now covers gender identity.

The report outlines the plan of attack: 1) Identify the Problem, 2) Prevent Sexual Assault, 3) Respond Effectively, 4) Improve Enforcement and Transparency.

Identify the Problem

The White House Task Force is taking the initiative to further understand the extent of sexual violence taking place on campuses. They are strongly suggesting that schools conduct a student survey on campus sexual violence in the winter or spring semester of 2015, with a view to mandate the survey in 2016. The Task Force has provided a toolkit explaining how to conduct the survey and providing a best practices example.

Resource: Campus Climate Survey Toolkit

Prevent Sexual Assault

The foundation of sexual violence prevention remains Prevention Programs (including training) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has produced a best practices review – including a checklist of items that all prevention programs should cover. However, the Task Force is increasingly focusing on promoting Bystander Intervention, as seen through The White House’s PSA video on Men as Allies.

Resource: (1) CDC Review of Primary Prevention Strategies for Reducing Sexual Violence ; (2) Basic Factsheet on Bystander Intervention ; (3) Establishing Prevention Programming: Strategic Planning for Campuses ; Recommended Reading – Fostering Healthy Norms to Prevent Violence and Abuse: The Social Norms Approach.

Respond Effectively

The report spent the most energy on this section, touching on the importance of Confidentiality, having a Sexual Misconduct Policy, Trauma-informed Training, Discipline Systems, and Community Partnerships. The responsibility is now on the campus to clearly define who can maintain confidentiality and who cannot; on-campus counselors and advocates are now fully protected – they canmaintain confidentiality. 

The report provides a checklist for re-evaluating campus policies and goes even further stating that Students must be involved in defining “consent” and in tailoring the policy to that particular campus.

The Justice Department is developing trauma-informed training programs for school officials and campus and local law enforcement. Trauma-informed training will also be developed for campus health centers. The jury is still out on changes/requirements for Discipline Systems – the Task Force indicated that more research needed to be done. The report recommends that campuses partner with local law enforcement, rape crisis centers, and other community organizations.

Resource: (1) Sample Reporting and Confidentiality Protocol ; (2) Checklist for a Sexual Misconduct Policy ; (3)Sample Memorandum of Understanding with a Rape Crisis Center ; (4) Promising Practices in Victim Services.

Improve Enforcement and Transparency

The report aims to improve enforcement by clarifying that “recent amendments to the Clery Act do not alter a school’s responsibility under Title IX to respond to and prevent sexual violence.” The Dept. of Ed’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) will be “more visible on campus.” Specifically, OCR will require schools to provide interim relief to victims and require that negotiations of voluntary resolution agreements be reached within 90 days. The OCR has published FAQs on Title IX and Sexual Violence Prevention. 

All government departments involved are seeking to provide more transparency through as well as publishing data.

Resource: (1) OCR’s FAQs Document ; (2) Data Made Available Here ; (3) OCR’s Case Processing Manual ; (4) How the Clery Act, Title IX, and FERPA Interact ; (5) Role Definitions for the Dept. of Education and Dept. of Justice.

*All information summarized here is sourced from "Not Alone: The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault" published on

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