PSA against sexual assault is first step in enforcing Title IX law on campuses

While the celebrities featured in the new White House PSA against sexual assault help highlight the issue's importance, ED Act Now organizer Wagatwe Wanjuki said more has to be done going forward.

Steve Carell was among the celebrities who spoke out in the PSA.
Steve Carell was among the celebrities who spoke out in the PSA.

While the celebrities featured in the new White House PSA against sexual assault help highlight the issue's importance, ED Act Now organizer Wagatwe Wanjuki said more has to be done going forward.

ED Act Now, a campaign run by the group Know Your IX, wants to emphasize its belief that the White House made a "great first step," but there are more hurdles, added Wanjuki.

The 60-second PSA, "1 is 2 Many," garnered more than 300,000 views since it was published on Tuesday. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are joined by actors Daniel Craig, Benicio Del Toro, Dulé Hill, Seth Meyers, and Steve Carell, who speak out against the negative message of shaming a woman until she feels as if an assault committed against her was her own fault. They also say they would not stand by and let an assault happen.  

There’s the need for increased transparency when it comes to Title IX, the federal law that requires schools to investigate reports of sexual assault, said Wanjuki. She added that the only way at the moment to attain information regarding whether a school is being investigated for potential Title IX infractions is to call the Department of Education.

Title IX, while a "powerful tool in making students safer in the aftermath of being failed by their institutions," needs to be enforced effectively and made tougher because no school has actually been sanctioned for violating Title IX, explained Wanjuki. The only punishment is to remove federal funding, and that would only harm innocent students, she said.

Know Your IX is an online resource and Wanjuki said the organization includes as much information as possible, so the White House’s latest PSA will be added to the toolkit. She added that the White House has listened to some of their recommendations.

On Tuesday, the White House also released a report with recommendations on how colleges and universities can prevent sexual assaults on campus.

"As we do with all key issues, our White House press team handled our media strategy for this announcement. Our new PSA and recommendations were the next important steps in the President and Vice President’s ongoing commitment to rooting out sexual violence on campus and we will continue to get the word out about these efforts as we move forward," a White House spokesperson said in a statement.

The script of the latest PSA alone is hard-hitting. The administration is stepping up to tear down the worn out idea that if a woman is drunk, she somehow is complicit in the assault against her. Hearing it come from the mouths of grown men, who respected by male and female fans, gives the notion that maybe some people will really hear the message and understand it, if only for the first time.

It’s a different side of POTUS than the American public has gotten used to seeing on YouTube, and for good reason. A conversation about sexual assault has no place on Funny or Die’s Between Two Ferns. The minimal background and one-person-per-frame shots in the PSA demand the viewer to listen to what’s being said.

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