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On This Very Apolitical Cause, the White House Found a Very Political Partner

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“Everybody has a role to play."

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, left, outlines the "It's On Us" campaign at the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Obama unveiled a new campaign to change the way people think about campus sexual assault. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

On an issue that has universal support — combating campus sexual assaults — the White House is partnering with the nation's leading liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress.

President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden, outlines the "It's On Us" campaign at the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Obama unveiled a new campaign to change the way people think about campus sexual assault. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The center, founded by ex-Clinton chief of staff and current White House adviser John Podesta, has a youth program called "Generation Progress," which has been named a key partner in the Obama administration's "It's On Us" initiative.

President Barack Obama on Friday announced the launch of "It's On Us," which includes partnerships with more than 200 university student governments, the NCAA, nonprofit groups and media companies. The Center for American Progress is the only overtly ideological group.

"Everybody has a role to play," Obama said in announcing the new initiative. "The idea is to fundamentally shift the way we think about sexual assault."

The initiative is about encouraging everyone, particularly men, to be involved in preventing assaults on women on college campuses.

Obama said it's not the just a matter for survivors, activists or university administrators but about coaches, fraternities and sororities, college newspaper editors and the broader media to help change the culture.

“It's not just on parents of young women to caution her,” Obama said. “It's on the parents of young men to teach them respect for young women."

The government's “Not Alone” report in April called for helping students and college administrations better understand and address the issue of campus sexual assault; to identify the scope of the problem through a survey of campus; helping schools responsibly respond to cases of rape, and making the federal government's enforcement efforts more transparent.

The White House said the administration has a “memorandum of understanding with the Center for American Progress to be a part of the 'It’s On Us' campaign through Generation Progress.”

CAP will be involved in “online, on television, and on other platforms to spread the word about 'It’s On Us,” push a social media campaign and “communicate with, engage, and mobilize campus communities to act.”

Other partners include the American Association of University Women; the NCAA and several college athletic conferences; Clear Channel – iHeart Radio, College Humor, Conversant Media, Electronic Arts, Men Can Stop Rape, Participant Media, Microsoft – Bing; National Campus Leadership Council; National Alliance to End Sexual Violence; Newsweek; National Women’s Law Center; On Campus Media; and Viacom, which includes VH1, MTV, BET, CMT and Spike.

“It's the guys out there watching on television to step up and intervene,” Vice President Joe Biden said. “You have a moral obligation to make that guy a pariah.”

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