White House Releases Celebrity-Stacked PSA About Sexual Assault

Joe Biden in the video youtube.com

In addition to its inaugural report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault, the White House has released a 60-second public service announcement on sexual assault. It’s short, simple, and addressed to the only individuals who can, in fact, prevent sexual assault: would-be perpetrators. Mostly, that means men, though some new research complicates that assumption.

It’s also stacked with celebrities, among them Daniel Craig, Benicio Del Toro, Seth Meyers and Steve Carrell.

“If she doesn’t consent—or if she can’t consent—it’s rape, it’s assault, it’s a crime, it’s a wrong,” Del Toro tells viewers in the spot. That’s in line with advice in the White House’s new guidelines on preventing sexual violence on colleges. 

The president also makes an appearance. “It’s up to all of us to put an end to sexual assault,” President Obama says, “and that starts with you.”

That’s a robust call for consent education and bystander intervention training, though right now the push seems to be starting with the feds.

This morning, the Department of Education released a list of 55 colleges under Title IX investigation for their handling (or alleged mishandling) of sexual assault claims. The list includes schools as varied as Swarthmore, a tiny liberal arts college, and Penn State, a massive research university, as well as several Ivy League institutions, where issues of sexual violence on campus have been especially heated in recent months.

“We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue,” Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights, told The Washington Post, though she emphasized that none of the schools on the list have yet been found to be violating the law.