(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of Education fired a warning shot Thursday, releasing the names of 55 colleges and universities across the nation that receive federal funds and which are under investigation for mishandling sexual violence and harassment complaints from students.
The list included schools like the University of Michigan, Ohio State, Southern Methodist, and the University of California, Berkeley.
Reached Thursday by ABC News, each school’s representative said they took any allegation of sexual assault extremely seriously and were working to combat it.
The list’s release came just as students across the U.S. are receiving their college acceptance letters.
In January, President Obama signed a memorandum to establish the White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault, an effort to curb the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.
Students are being encouraged to watch out for each other. Advocates are hailing schools like the University of New Hampshire, which has a sexual assault prevention program that teaches students to intervene when they recognize a potentially bad situation.
“We have to do everything we can to protect them [victims],” Vice President Joe Biden said. “These are our children. These are our wives, our daughters, our sisters. These people are you!”
Harmony Reid, 25, of Rhode Island, said she became a victim of sexual assault on campus during the first week of her freshman year. Reid said she was “ecstatic” to see the Department of Education taking action.
“I am someone’s friend. I am someone’s daughter,” she said. “But I am also a survivor of sexual assault.”
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