On Tuesday, the White House released a one-minute PSA addressing rape on U.S. college campuses, featuring a star-studded cast: Alongside President Obama and Vice President Biden, the spot features actors Daniel Craig, Benicio del Toro, Dulé Hill, Seth Meyers, and Steve Carell. Unlike the administration's new guidelines for universities on how to deal with sexual assault, this message is directed at you. “It’s up to all of us to put an end to sexual assault,” President Obama says in the video.
The PSA begins with the type of anti-rape message that’s typically directed at men: Don’t rape people. “If she doesn’t consent, or if she can’t consent, it’s rape. It’s assault,” del Toro says. “It’s a crime,” Carell adds. “It’s wrong.” But then, the message shifts to address the role of bystanders in preventing assaults on campus: “If I saw it happening, I was taught you have to do something about it,” Biden says. “If I saw it happening, I’d speak up,” says del Toro. “If I saw it happening, I’d never blame her. I’d help her,” Craig says.
The ad comes as Obama ramps up efforts to compel schools to take more action to reduce sexual assaults on their campuses. The White House has assembled a task force to recommend that schools institute training programs for bystanders, conduct campuswide surveys to better track sexual assault on campus, and take care to make their reporting processes more confidential. It’s also launched a website, NotAlone.gov, to help victims find resources and investigate their schools’ compliance with federal regulations. But until these recommendations become law—the New York Times reports that “the administration is likely to ask Congress to pass measures that would enforce the recommendations and levy penalties for failing to do so”—it's all just talk. Still, if I have to settle for talk, I'll take Daniel Craig casually hanging out in a café, chatting about his commitment to bystander intervention, please.
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