Victory! White House task force unveils new recommendations to end campus sexual assault

ED ACT NOW organizers after meeting with White House officials

ED ACT NOW organizers after meeting with White House officials.

If you read Feministing regularly you probably know about the work of Know Your IX and its ED ACT NOW campaign, which are fighting for Title IX enforcement to combat sexual violence on college campuses. Feministing’s own Alexandra, Wagatwe, and Suzanna are leaders in this campaign, and recently brought their demands all the way to the White House.

Last night, the new White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault released its first report, announcing that it was adopting many of the policy ideas developed and demanded by these BAMFs, and making resources and data available at a new website.

From Know Your IX’s response to the White House Task Force report:

Today we are encouraged to see many of our demands at the heart of the Task Force’s report.

We are particularly encouraged by the Task Force’s commitment to transparency, which we have demanded repeatedly since our first action. We hope that improved access to information about previous and ongoing Title IX investigations will provide students and their families with much-needed insight into universities’ track records on sexual violence and will allow the public to hold both schools and ED accountable. We note, however, that to promote true transparency, ED must make the list of schools under investigation available publicly rather than solely upon request, as the Task Force now requires. We are also glad to see our recommendation that the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR), Department of Justice, and Federal Student Aid Office coordinate their efforts to ensure effective investigations.

I am so damn proud of the Know Your IX and ED ACT NOW teams and all the organizers, on and off campus, who’ve worked for this impressive victory. In fact, the whole Feministing community was an essential part of this win. Organizers have used this space to combat dangerous mainstream narratives and misconceptions about campus violence and Title IX enforcement. And it’s thanks to you — our engaged readers — that the petition that launched the campaign and first caught the White House’s eye gained nearly 175,000 signatures.

Of course, there’s still more work to be done. From Know Your IX:

Still, these changes will mean little until Title IX enforcement is finally given teeth. It is unconscionable that, in ED’s entire history, the agency has never once sanctioned a school for sexual violence-related violations of Title IX. Such tolerance allows institutional abuses to go unchecked at students’ expense. We hope that legislators will step in to fill this gap in the Task Force’s recommendations by providing the OCR with new tools to hold schools accountable and protect students’ civil rights.

This is a huge win that proves the power of young feminists to make real, meaningful change using the tools we have, including online platforms like this blog. I know at least one of the organizers is currently in the middle of finals, but I hope they can all take some time to celebrate this victory, cause damn.

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Jos Truitt Jos Truitt is an Executive Director of Feministing.

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