The Preventionista Goes to Washington

Vice President Joseph BidenLast week, I had the opportunity to attend the Not Alone: The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault release at the White House.  After recovering from the excitement of the news that I would be attending, I did my best to prepare for this momentous occassion.  Black pantsuit – check.  Clearance check completed – check.   Catching up on season 3 of Veep – check.

We arrived in time to get seats in the front.  It was fantastic to see the familiar faces of colleagues and long-time supporters in the room.  As the event began, elected officials made their way to the front to talk about the importance of campus sexual assault prevention.  Whether it was the Secretary of the Department of Education, the Deputy Attorney General, or the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the message was clear:  sexual assault on campuses must end. 

When it was time for Vice President Biden to speak, he approached the podium with a young woman.  This woman spoke bravely about her experience as a survivor of rape on campus.   She spoke about the gaps in the system that created further trauma for her.  It was important for me to hear this perspective because – I’ve got to tell you – sometimes I get so bogged down in the daily tasks of doing this work that I forget WHY I am doing it.   I want to thank her for reminding me why we are working to end sexual violence.

Another part of the event that I found helpful was the panel of key leaders who shared how they are carrying out innovative prevention programming on their campuses.  When shining a spotlight on the gaps in the system, it’s important to also highlight the good prevention work already being done.Jen Grove in White House press room

I would be remiss if I didn’t say that, while there is much progress that has been made, much more needs to be done (see my blog post on this topic from a few months ago for specifics, as well as a post about PCAR/NSVRC’s recommendations to the task force).  We still need research on the effectiveness of the prevention programs that are out there, and whether promising prevention practices are having the intended results.  Research and program implementation take time and money, and I would really like to see a commitment from our elected officials to support these much-needed prevention efforts.