HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Sexual assault on U.S. college campuses has become an epidemic. Tuesday, a White House task force will release its recommendations to combat the problem.
Against this backdrop, auditors from the federal government are at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa this week to make sure the campus is in compliance with Title IX obligations.
"This is not triggered by some event. This is a random audit, if you will, and the idea is to help us make our campus safer, particularly for women, but also for all of our students," UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple said.
Title IX requires all federally funded universities to treat male and female students equally in both educational and athletic opportunities. It also mandates a safe environment free of sexual harassment and assault.
"The whole idea of this is to help us improve our processes and procedures. We want to make sure that this is a safe campus as possible. We want to make sure that particularly, I'll say young women, but everyone when they come to this campus -- that they can study, learn, find their passion and become students -- without worrying about being harassed, assaulted and those kinds of things," Apple said.
The audit is being conducted by the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education.
"They're looking at how we handle cases of alleged sexual harassment or sexual assault, in all its forms, including stalking and cyberstalking," Apple explained.
According to national reports, OCR has received more sexual assault-related Title IX complaints in the past six months than it did in all of fiscal year 2013. Approximately, one in five women and one in 33 men are victims of sexual assault during college, but officials say only 12% of rape survivors report the crime.
According to UH Manoa's annual safety report, there were 24 reported sex offenses in 2012. That's up from 20 in 2011, but Chancellor Apple says he believes the increase is a result of their education and outreach, which has created an environment where victims feel safe enough to come forward.
OCR representatives are conducting informal focus groups for UH Manoa students through Wednesday. All students are invited to attend. For a complete schedule: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/chancellor/title-IX