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Biden pushes universities to crack down on sexual assaults

| Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 7:42 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Vice President Biden said on Tuesday that the nation's colleges and universities have a moral responsibility to “step up” efforts to prevent sexual assault on campuses.

Biden's remarks follow the White House Task Force to Prevent Students from Sexual Assault's release of a series of recommendations late Monday, which detail the administration's plan to improve reporting by universities and colleges of sexual assault incidents as well as bolster efforts to educate students about sexual and gender-based violence.

“I understand all the excuses and I understand all the rationale ... but colleges and universities can no longer turn a blind eye or pretend rape or sexual assault doesn't occur on their campuses,” Biden said. “I understand that the good guys (that) report feel like they may be damaging the reputation of their schools. I get it. But it doesn't matter. We need to provide survivors with support and we need to bring perpetrators to justice.”

The administration announced that it would introduce the website NotAlone.gov, where enforcement data will be published, and begin a push to require colleges and universities to conduct “climate surveys” to better understand how frequently incidents happen on campus but are not reported to authorities.

“I challenge every college and university, if they are really serious about protecting students, to conduct anonymous surveys,” Biden said. “They have a moral responsibility to know what is happening on their campus.”

Among other recommendations in the 20-page report are calls to train campus officials on how to respond to victims of sexual assault and reshape existing policies to provide victims with greater flexibility to speak confidentially with on-campus counselors.

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