The Civil Rights Office of the U.S. Department of Education Thursday released a list of 55 colleges and universities under investigation for possible Title IX violations over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance, such as colleges and universities. Examples of conduct that violates Title IX would include sexual harassment, the failure to provide equal opportunity in athletics, and discrimination based on pregnancy.
Over the years, investigations into violations on college campuses have been known, however this is the first time the DOE has publicly released a list of schools currently being investigated.
The lack of transparency has been an issue for women and have long since criticized the Department of Education for shielding schools under investigation. Prior to this review the department would only disclose information regarding a school's investigation upon request.
"We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights," Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said in a statement reported in the Huffington Post."We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue. I also want to make it clear that a college or university's appearance on this list and being the subject of a Title IX investigation in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law," Lhamon said.
After the probe was made public, the University of California, Berkeley said to CNN it will cooperate with the investigation and added that its chancellor had sent out a letter to campus saying sexual assault would not be tolerated.
Washington State University, said they would work with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights to improve its policies. In February, the university said, federal representatives visited Pullman and engaged in student focus groups as well as student and employee interviews.
The university issued a statement saying, "There has been no finding of any wrongdoing on the part of WSU. We are still waiting to hear from OCR regarding participation in the voluntary resolution process," a university statement said, adding that there's no tolerance for sexual harassment, assault or misconduct on its campus.
The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the University of Colorado Boulder were also among the handful of schools that responded openly to reports about the DOE probe. All of the universities that responded insisted that there were "no findings of wrongdoing" on their campus after conducting their own, internal investigations.
If a college is found to be in violation of Title IX after a federal investigation, the violation leads to some form of a resolution with the Department of Education, which can include rewriting policies, requiring staffing changes or other directives. In some cases, the Education Department can refer the matter to another agency, such as the Department of Justice, or move to cut off a school from all federal funding. No higher education institution has ever lost federal funding due to Title IX violations.
According to the Huffington Post, the list of colleges and universities under federal Title IX investigation appears on the map below.
Map Key: Dark red markers indicate a federal investigation is currently underway, light red means a complaint was filed but no investigation has been opened yet. Blue indicates the school is facing a controversy over sexual violence cases not specifically related to a federal complaint or investigation.
Arizona State University
Butte-Glen Community College District
University of California-Berkeley
University of Southern California
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Colorado at Denver
University of Denver
University of Connecticut
Catholic University of America
Florida State University
University of Hawaii at Manoa
University of Idaho
University of Chicago
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Frostburg State University
Michigan State University
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Minot State University
City University of New York - Hunter College
Hobart & William Smith Colleges
Sarah Lawrence College
State University of New York at Binghamton
Ohio State University
Oklahoma State University
Carnegie Mellon University
Franklin & Marshall College
Pennsylvania State University
Southern Methodist University
University of Texas-Pan American
College of William & Mary
University of Virginia
Washington State University
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
Of the 55 colleges that are currently under federal investigation, only three, the University of Montana, Yale University, and Tufts University have competed the probe.
Did your college or university make the list?
[Photo Credit: Screengrab]