Valerie Jarrett to Campus Sexual Assault Victims: ‘We Are Committed To Doing Everything Within Our Power’

White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett told Fusion’s Alicia Menendez she would have looked more closely at campus safety when her daughter was considering colleges had she known what she knows now.

“If I knew…10 years ago when my daughter was starting college what I know today, it would be a very important factor to consider,” she said. “Would she be safe on campus? What are universities doing to ensure the safety of their students?”

One out of every five young women at colleges across the country is a victim of sexual assault, according to a task force put together by the Obama administration to examine the issue. But few ever report the abuse.

The White House unveiled new guidelines for helping schools tackle campus sexual assault, and hopes it will encourage more victims to seek help.

“This is not something you should have to go through by yourself,” Jarrett said.

The new guidelines are recommendations, meaning schools don’t have to follow them. But the Obama administration has supported legislation aimed at compelling schools to do mandatory campus surveys of sexual assault, among other proposals.

The federal government can play an important role in combating campus sexual assault, she said, adding that the government will “aggressively enforce the law.”

“We are committed to doing everything within our power,” Jarrett said, adding that she’s hopeful universities will realize they “cannot hide any longer.”

Prominent schools from Yale to Dartmouth have come under fire for poor handling of campus sexual assault.

While Jarrett noted that having women in Congress who are focused on sexual abuse has resulted in action on the issue, she “doesn’t want to underestimate the importance of men in this equation.”

The ultimate goal, she said, is to make campuses safe and let people know that sexual assault is “unacceptable behavior.”

CREDIT: Alicia Menendez, Andrea Torres, Bianca Perez, Emily DeRuy