A controversy surrounding University of Iowa President Sally Mason illustrates the pressure that college administrators are facing to crack down on campus sexual assault.

Mason had taken steps that made the 30,000-student university a model on the issue, hiring an administrator to coordinate help for victims and mandating prevention training for employees. Yet she faced protests last month after telling the student newspaper that ending sexual assault was probably unrealistic "just given human nature and that's unfortunate."

Some students called it a hurtful remark that exemplified the university's insensitivity. Mason apologized and took action, but she was still chastised by the university's governing board.

Well-organized student activists and an increasingly active federal government are putting pressure on college leaders to stop what the White House calls a public health epidemic.