Editor’s Note: College students get schooled on consent

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

When first arriving on a college campus, freshman students have a lot of new things to learn, from navigating dorm life to understanding their class schedule. This year, more students than ever will also have to get schooled in sexual assault.

You can thank the federal government for that. An updated law, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, requires colleges to offer sexual assault awareness and prevention training to new students and employees.

The Obama administration has been on a mission the past few years, in conjunction with the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, to end rape and sexual assault at universities. This has put significant pressure on schools to investigate reported cases swiftly — or risk losing federal funds.

Tuesday the White House released its latest “It’s On Us” public service announcement, which is a brief video of celebrities talking about how sex without consent is rape. This campaign to end campus sexual assault started last year.

It’s fine for the government to highlight the issue. But determining whether consent was given after the fact can be tricky, and university investigators are often not qualified to make these decisions — with potentially life-altering implications.

It should also be “on” the Obama administration to ensure all students are treated fairly in these cases.