Feds Investigate 55 Colleges Over Handling of Sex Assault Reports

Thursday, 01 May 2014 04:14 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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A total of 55 colleges and universities around the country are being investigated for possibly mishandling sexual assault reports, the U.S. Department of Education said Thursday.

The department released a list of the schools, which include Harvard University Law School, University of California-Berkley, University of Denver, and Emory University.

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"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," said Catherine E. Lhamon, the department's assistant secretary for civil rights, according to CNN. “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."

In February, CNN reported that sexual violence complaints on campuses to the Department of Education had tripled since 2009. The department received 17 complaints in 2012 to 30 in 2013.

Stopping sexual violence on campus and better handling sexual violence complaints has been the recent focus in Washington. The White House announced recommendations this week that would strengthen laws protecting students, and encouraged campus prevention programs that have been shown to work. A website, notalone.gov, provides information on campus violence.

There’s also been a push for greater transparency when schools are conducting investigations.

Some think the government isn’t going far enough, though.

“I don’t see why schools need all this help enforcing a law that’s been around since the ’70s,” activist Laura Dunn told Slate. Dunn said the missing piece is enforcement and pointed out that the Department of Education has never sanctioned a school for sexual violence-related violations of Title IX.

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