The White House is launching
a major campaign against sexual assault on college campuses. Tagged "It's on us," the campaign "seeks to engage college students and all members of campus communities in preventing sexual assault in the first place," and will draw on the cultural clout of partners like video game company Electronic Arts, the NCAA, Viacom's cable channels, and more
Several prominent celebrities will participate in public service announcements aimed at enlisting public support for the campaign, administration officials said, including Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love and actors Jon Hamm and Connie Britton.
The campaign aims to work
both through a cultural shift making campuses a place "where sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported," and by putting that (hoped-for) new culture into concrete action through bystander intervention and similar programs:
Most men are not comfortable with violence against women, but often don’t speak out because they believe that other men accept this behavior. By getting men involved, we can change this way of thinking and create new social norms. Research shows that bystander intervention can be an effective way of stopping sexual assault before it happens, as bystanders play a key role in preventing, discouraging, and/or intervening when an act of violence has the potential to occur.
The Obama administration is also investigating dozens of colleges and universities
over their handling—or mishandling—of sexual assault cases. The federal government can issue major fines
to schools that violate reporting laws or otherwise mishandle sexual assault cases; the ultimate federal action
would be to strip colleges of federal funding by declaring them in violation of Title IX. But, as Libby Nelson writes, that option "has never been used. And no one seriously thinks it ever will be" because it is so extreme. That being the case, a lot is riding on "It's on us."