President Obama on Wednesday announced a new task force that will examine ways to better prevent sexual assaults on college campuses, warning that the scourge of sexual violence "threatens our families, our communities, and ultimately our country."
Obama is giving the panel three months to gather specific recommendations on how universities can better respond to sexual assaults, noting that an estimated one in five women is the victim of sexual violence during her time enrolled in college.
Obama is also asking the task force to provide recommendations on how the federal government can track and promote how well individual schools are responding to the issue, as well as punish universities that fail to confront the issue.
"When a young woman drops out of school after being attacked, that’s not just a terrible loss for her, it’s a loss for our country," Obama said.
The president also encouraged students to pressure their university administrators to adopt programs to help prevent sexual assaults and help the victims of rape. And, Obama said, parents, educators and employers all had a role to play in making clear that sexual assault was unacceptable.
"I want every young man in America to feel some strong peer pressure in terms of how they are supposed to behave and treat women," Obama said. "We need to keep teaching young men to show women the respect they deserve, to recognize sexual violence and be outraged by it."
The president also told those who had been sexually assaulted that he had their "back."