In a memorandum issued earlier this week, President Obama announced the formation of an interagency task force to address incidents of rape and sexual assault at colleges and universities. Citing “uneven” compliance with applicable federal laws, the White House indicated that the task force would coordinate the efforts of agencies such as the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and U.S. Department of Justice to address compliance issues and provide colleges and universities with additional tools to address sexual violence. This will add another layer of scrutiny of higher education institutions’ actions to prevent and respond to such incidents in campus communities.

According to the memorandum, the task force will provide colleges and universities with best practices for preventing and responding to rape and sexual assault, build on current federal enforcement of compliance with laws governing sexual violence, and increase transparency and broaden public awareness of institutions’ compliance with legal obligations regarding sexual misconduct.

Although the task force will consult with college and universities, students, law enforcement agencies, and other stakeholders, its membership will be limited to senior officials in the federal government. The panel is charged with providing certain proposals and recommendations to the President within 90 days and will prepare an annual report on its implementation efforts.

Attorneys in Ballard Spahr’s Higher Education Group routinely advise educational institutions on the institutional response to sexual misconduct and assist in complying with Title IX, the April 4, 2011, Dear Colleague Letter issued by the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights, the Clery Act, and the Campus SaVE Act. For more information, contact Olabisi L. Okubadejo at 410.528.5532 or, or Dee Spagnuolo at 215.864.8312 or 

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