Governor's Task Force On Combating Campus Sexual Violence
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Executive Summary of the Task Force Report
On August 21, 2014, Governor Terry McAuliffe issued Executive Order 25, establishing the Governor's Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence. The Task Force, chaired by Attorney General Mark R. Herring, was directed to provide a final report of recommendations to the Governor by June 1, 2015. This truly collaborative effort included top state leaders and experts including the Secretaries of Education, Health and Human Services, and Public Safety and Homeland Security, representatives from higher education, law enforcement, community advocates, health professionals, and relevant state agencies.
Over the course of the next eight months, the Task Force met monthly in three distinct subcommittees: Prevention, Response, and Law Enforcement. The Task Force worked diligently to grasp the scope of the problem of campus sexual violence through presentations and conversations with countless stakeholders and through sharing their professional and personal expertise. Between October 2014 and May 2015, 24 subcommittee meetings, full Task Force meetings, and subcommittee chair meetings were held.
Task Force members formulated victim and survivor-focused recommendations to prevent campus sexual violence; to ensure that students and employees feel safe and are willing to report crimes of sexual violence; to ensure that proper procedures are in place to provide a victim-centered response; and to make certain that perpetrators are held accountable. Members of the Task Force believe that addressing campus sexual violence requires long-term commitment, and efforts were made to address the sustainability of the Task Force’s work in the recommendations.
The Task Force’s 21 recommendations fall under five distinct themes:
- Engaging Our Campuses and Communities in Comprehensive Prevention: To fully address the underlying cause of campus sexual violence, there must be a strong prevention effort that focuses on changing societal norms, increasing awareness, and modifying risk behaviors. Prevention recommendations encourage ongoing education and primary prevention.
- Minimizing Barriers to Reporting: Many complex factors determine whether a victim/survivor of sexual violence will come forward and seek help. These recommendations seek to eliminate barriers to reporting and provide innovative, accessible reporting options.
- Cultivating a Coordinated and Trauma-Informed Response: With federal, state, local, and institutional response policies and procedures intersecting, it is critical to coordinate among multiple stakeholders to ensure the most effective response. Additionally, this response must be survivor-sensitive and trauma-informed to minimize additional harm to the victim. These recommendations aim to establish partnerships to ensure an effective and integrated response, with support and procedural protections for all parties.
- Sustaining and Improving Campus Policies and Ensuring Compliance: Clear, transparent and consistent policies are critical to securing equitable outcomes for victims. These recommendations focus on how institutions can ensure a survivor-centered response.
- Institutionalizing the Work of the Task Force and Fostering Ongoing Collaborations: The work of the Task Force is a first step in implementing effective changes to eliminate sexual violence on campuses. These recommendations include measures to solidify partnerships and collaborations to fulfill the goals outlined in this report.
These recommendations are a beginning to the critical work needed to ensure that our institutions of higher learning are safe living and learning environments for all of Virginia’s students. As we work to reduce stigma and change societal attitudes about sexual violence, we will foster an environment in which no survivor feels further victimized by a response that is inadequate, suspicious, or judgmental. The task is too large for stakeholders to work independently: information-sharing, advancing best practices, and forging non-traditional partnerships are essential to our collective success. We recognize that the issue demands our attention, our creativity, and our continued diligence.
It is time to say "no more" to sexual violence on our campuses.AG Herring addresses the final meeting of Virginia's Task Force on Combating Campus Sexual Violence AG Mark Herring on Sexual Violence on College Campuses
|April 14, 2015 - Meeting of the Response Subcommittee: Minutes|