Respect rape task force

President Obama should not take his sexual assault task force for granted, and neither should students.

On Jan. 25, President Obama introduced his plan for a White House task force dedicated to protecting students from sexual assault. Obama called the fact that an estimated one-in-five women are sexually assaulted in college “totally unacceptable.”

Temple students shouldn’t take national studies like these lightly. While it’s easy to feel detached from numbers displaying a national problem, the statistics show on a macro scale what directly reflects our campus on a micro scale.

Seventeen sexual assaults were reported to Temple Police in 2013, a rise from the 13 incidents reported in 2012. Additional assaults likely go unreported, further spiking the numbers.

While Obama’s task force announcement shows much-needed recognition of the problem, the president failed to provide bullet points of specific methods of preventing and responding to sexual assaults on college campuses – the two goals of the task force.

Temple’s policy on Preventing and Addressing Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking includes a three-pronged attack on the issue: providing education and prevention programs, procedures that are sensitive to victims of assault and university disciplinary sanctions for those who commit sexual crimes.

Perhaps government funding spearheaded by Obama’s task force would boost university sexual assault prevention programs like Temple’s.

For the task force to be taken seriously, Obama will have to follow up with public comments on its progress and specific measures that will be taken to prevent sexual assault and improve response to them.

When the president speaks on these matters, students should listen. Ignorance is far from bliss – it’s outright denial of a national problem.

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