Grambling State University president is one of only five university presidents and the only HBCU president participating as White House launches aggressive sexual assault approach for universities nationally
GSU President Pogue was one of only 5 university presidents
invited to attend the White House Task Force to Protect Students
from Sexual Assult.
BY Grambling State University Media Bureau
GRAMBLING, LA — Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue said a White House task force has released a “cutting edge” report that empowers higher education to better deal with sexual harassment and sexual assaults.
“It was a joy for me to have been invited by the White House to witness what I consider to be a cutting edge kind of report that’s going to have significant implications for higher education, and one that empowers higher education, particularly university presidents,” added Pogue. “This sexual assault matter has hit the White House and President Obama has taken on this challenge personally.”
Obama established the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault in January, and Tuesday the group provided recommendations to provide better enforcement on campuses, partly by providing universities with tools to fight the problem. Tuesday the task force released its report during a two-hour session that included Pogue and other higher education representatives as well as Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other cabinet members and government officials. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden chaired the task force and the meeting. Pogue was one of only five university presidents participating, and the only president of a historically black university to attend.
The president’s task force identified four key areas of focus: (1) identify the scope of the problem on college campuses, (2) help prevent campus sexual assault, (3) help schools respond effectively when a student is assaulted, and (4) improve, and make more transparent, the federal government’s enforcement efforts. The group of participants included representatives from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, a group of more than 400 state-supported colleges and universities that Pogue has been affiliated with for several years.
“Several AASCU presidents were invited to attend this historic session that will focus on data collection and recommendations of the president’s Task Force on Sexual Assault on college campuses,” Pogue said after attending Tuesday’s afternoon session with Biden and about 250 others in a White House auditorium with a standing room only crowd. “Representing Grambling, I am proud to be a witness to actions that support the many efforts we make everyday to ensure that our campus community is safe and respectful when it comes to basic human rights.”
Pogue said he is especially interested in one of the resulting tools to help colleges and universities, a survey with “evidence-based sample questions that schools can use to gauge the prevalence of sexual assault on campus, test students’ attitudes and awareness about the issue, and craft solutions.” The White House asked the institutions to voluntarily conduct the climate survey next year and, after refining some survey methodology, expand its use to all schools as a requirement.
“This isn’t anything any of us should fear,” said Pogue. “We should want to hear directly from our students on lots of issues, so why not sexual assault? We can talk with a few students about these issues but it is far better to use a student survey to determine what more we can and should do.”
The federal government effort includes the launch of NotAlone.gov, a website to help provide support to sexual assault survivors on college campuses. Biden called it “a confidential place to go.”
Another task force recommendation targets working with colleges to promote “bystander intervention,” convincing witnesses to step up, speak up and help. There will be a public service announcement featuring Obama, Biden and celebrities focused on men in particular.
The task force also wants to see colleges and universities identify and train “victim advocates” who can quickly provide emergency assistance when something happens as well as ongoing support. The White House plans to release a sample reporting tool and methods to maintain confidentiality as a part of what it sees as an effective sexual misconduct policy.
Pogue said the vice president emphasized that men must acknowledge and learn that when a woman says she is not interested that that is the end of it, that a woman’s “no” must mean no. “I always say to the men at the beginning of the academic year ‘No means no,’” said Pogue, noting that he’s done the same thing at each university where he has been president. “No man should ever attack a woman under any condition. None.”
The president said though most sexual assaults involve men attacking women, universities increasingly deal with women attacking men sexually, women attacking women and men attacking men. “We have to broaden this thing beyond traditional ideas,” he added. “It’s getting more involved, and that means these issues are more important.”