The Clery Act, the law that requires all colleges and universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to keep and disclose information about crime on and around campus, also contains requirements on how disciplinary proceedings should be conducted.

The new requirements include sexual misconduct training for students, publicly disclosing incidents of domestic violence and stalking on campus, and disciplinary proceedings run by officials who have been trained on sexual misconduct.

The task force recommended schools conduct an anonymous survey to gauge the prevalence of sexual assaults, how frequently the incidents are reported and how well officials handled those cases.

The administration said it would provide a "tool kit" to help schools conduct those polls. A bill that died in the Maryland General Assembly this year would have required similar surveys.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who helped lead the effort in Congress last year to approve the Violence Against Women Act — which included the new reporting requirements for schools — said she supported the administration's efforts.

"Women deserve to be safe everywhere, in their homes, in their dorms, in the classroom, and in the workplace," the Maryland Democrat said. "Higher education should be part of the American dream, not a nightmare for students suffering the physical and psychological distress of sexual assault."

Moriarty, the Towson vice president, said the university is still reviewing where its policies might be improved. She said she is not in favor of the anonymous sexual assault surveys.

"I don't think anybody's unaware of the scope of the problem," she said. "I'm not sure if using our resources to collect data is the best use of time," compared to training programs and handling complaints.

The task force also called for an expansion of prevention programs, including "bystander intervention" initiatives that focus on getting onlookers to take action when they see a woman in trouble.

Some Maryland schools already use bystander intervention training programs.

"Much of the time it's a case of empowering bystanders to know that it's OK to intervene," said Michael N. Webster, the director of campus safety at McDaniel College.

In a public-service announcement unveiled Tuesday, President Barack Obama and Biden — along with actor Daniel Craig, late-night talk show host Seth Meyers and other celebrities — urged men to "be part of the solution."

The Education Department is clarifying its guidance to allow on-campus counselors to talk with victims in confidence. Some are concerned that policies that require counselors to report all details of an incident to school officials can intimidate victims who may be wary about filing a formal report. Individual schools ultimately will have to decide whether to follow that guidance.

Some Maryland schools have formed task forces to study how they handle sexual misconduct. Some have created new positions to oversee responses.

The Johns Hopkins University announced a new sexual violence working group last week to examine the school's approach and resources.

Kevin Shollenberger, the vice provost for student affairs at Hopkins, said he found the task force recommendations "extremely helpful" and that officials want to make the university's process for reporting an assault more understandable.

The former Frostburg student called sexual assault on college campuses a "pandemic."

"One in five is entirely too much," she said. "People send their children off to college expecting them to be safe, but with that statistic, is it worth it to ruin their life?"

cwells@baltsun.com

john.fritze@baltsun.com