Last week, at the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, federal education officials went to work to raise awareness of and improve the response to sexual assault on college campuses. The focus of their efforts is to implement effective prevention and response strategies.

In a press release issued last week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that, “every school would like to believe it is immune from sexual violence but the facts suggest otherwise…Our first goal is prevention through education. Information is always the best way to combat sexual violence. Our larger goal is to raise awareness to an issue that should have no place in society and especially in our schools.”

In an investigation in 2010, NPR found that, “colleges almost never expel men who are found responsible for sexual assault and that often, as a result, it is the victim who drops out of school.” While the Department of Education’s campaign doesn’t introduce new regulations to combat that problem, it aims to reinforce those that already exist, reminding schools that they have a responsibility to the 20 percent of college women who become victims of sexual assault on campus.

The DOE’s Office of Civil Rights sent a “Dear Colleague” letter addressed to school officials last week outlining their responsibilities to victims of sexual assault as detailed under Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments, which bans sex discrimination and harassment on campus. And in a recent speech at the University of New Hampshire, Vice President Joe Biden praised the school’s “Bringing in the Bystanders” program, which teaches students how to intervene safely when they see a potentially dangerous situation.

“No means no, if you’re  drunk or you’re sober. No means no if you’re in bed in a dorm or on the street, no means no even if you said yes at first and you changed your mind.

“No matter what a girl does, no matter how she’s dressed, no matter how much she’s had to drink, it’s never, never, never, never, never okay to touch her without her consent. That doesn’t make you a man, it makes you a coward.”

—Vice President Joe Biden

In a story covering the DOE initiative, AOL News quoted Sarah Martino of Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER), a group devoted to reforming college sexual assault policies. She said, “schools don’t have to be the criminal justice system. But there are things they can do, like making sure that a survivor of violence feels safe on campus and can go to class without worrying that her perpetrator is going to be there.”