WASHINGTON -- Under pressure from some victims’ advocates and lawmakers, the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday published a comprehensive list of the colleges and universities the agency is investigating for how they handle sexual harassment and assault complaints.
The department took the unprecedented step of publicly naming all 55 institutions that investigators are probing to see whether their approach to sexual assault and harassment complies with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which requires gender equity in education.
This Week @ Inside Higher Ed
Listen to the premiere
of the audio newscast that gets behind and beyond each week's
top stories on our site. Click
here to listen or download.
“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,” Catherine E. Lhamon, the assistant education secretary for civil rights, said in a written statement. “We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue.”
- Arizona State University (opened Jan. 26, 2012)
- Butte-Glenn Community College District (opened Feb. 27, 2013)
- Occidental College (opened May 2, 2013)
- University of California-Berkley (opened March 25, 2014)
- University of Southern California (opened June 26, 2013)
- Regis University (opened April 30, 2013)
- University of Colorado at Boulder (opened June 18, 2013)
- University of Colorado at Denver (opened April 29, 2014)
- University of Denver (opened Dec. 12, 2013)
- University of Connecticut (opened Dec. 6, 2013)
District of Columbia
- Catholic University of America (opened Jan. 8, 2014)
- Florida State University (opened April 3, 2014)
- Emory University (opened Dec. 13, 2013)
- University of Hawaii at Manoa (opened May 28, 2013)
- University of Idaho (opened April 18, 2013)
- Knox College (opened Jan. 1, 2014)
- University of Chicago (opened June 28, 2013)
- Indiana University-Bloomington (March 12, 2014)
- Vincennes University (March 20, 2014)
- Amherst College (opened Jan. 1, 2014)
- Boston University (opened Dec. 16, 2013)
- Emerson College (opened Dec. 23, 2013)
- Harvard College (opened April 24, 2014)
- Harvard Law School (opened Dec. 21, 2010)
- University of Massachusetts-Amherst (opened June 30, 2011)
- Frostburg State University (opened Sept. 18, 2013)
- Michigan State University (first case opened July 21, 2011; second case opened Feb. 18, 2014)
- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (opened Feb. 21, 2014)
- Guiliford College (opened Nov. 18, 2013)
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (opened March 1, 2013)
- Minot State University (opened Feb. 26, 2014)
- Dartmouth College (opened May 31, 2013)
- Princeton University (opened Dec. 15, 2010)
- CUNY Hunter College (opened Feb. 8, 2013)
- Hobart and William Smith Colleges (opened April 24, 2014)
- Sarah Lawrence College (opened Dec. 4, 2013)
- State University of New York at Binghamton (opened Dec. 31, 2013)
- Denison University (opened March 7, 2014)
- Ohio State University (opened June 23, 2010)
- Wittenberg University (first case opened Aug. 25, 2011; second case opened April 18, 2013)
- Oklahoma State University (opened April 10, 2014)
- Carnegie Mellon University (opened Jan. 13, 2014)
- Franklin and Marshall College (opened March 26, 2014)
- Pennsylvania State University (opened Jan. 23, 2014)
- Swarthmore College (opened July 12, 2013)
- Temple University (opened Aug. 9, 2013)
- Vanderbilt University (opened March 12, 2014)
- Southern Methodist University (first case opened Aug. 17, 2011; second case opened April 19, 2013; third case opened April 19, 2013)
- The University of Texas-Pan American (opened April 21, 2014)
- College of William and Mary (opened April 18, 2014)
- University of Virginia (opened June 30, 2011)
- Washington State University (opened Jan. 15, 2013)
- University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (opened Feb. 14, 2014)
- Bethany College (opened April 28, 2014)
- West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine (opened March 25, 2013)
Lhamon also noted that an institution’s inclusion on the list “in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law.”
The list spans a wide range of types of institutions, including elite research universities, public universities, small liberal arts colleges, and a community college. Some of the investigations have been previously reported in the press, but others were disclosed for the first time.
Of the 55 colleges and universities on the list, 23 have investigations that were opened within the past four months. Twenty-seven of the ongoing inquiries were begun in 2013, and six remain open from 2012 or 2011.
The longest-standing investigation is at Ohio State University, which began in June 2010. Inquiries into Harvard Law School and Princeton University, which both started in December 2010, also remain open.
At three institutions, the department’s Office for Civil Rights has launched multiple investigations that remain open. Southern Methodist University has three separate investigations (one from 2011 and two from 2013), and Michigan State University and Wittenburg University each have two.
The department would previously confirm Title IX investigations on an individual basis when asked but has never published a full list of current investigations. Going forward, an updated copy of the list will be made available “upon request” to those who contact the civil rights office, the department said.
Over the objection of some colleges and universities, the list released Thursday does not distinguish between the two types of Title IX investigations that an institution may be facing.
The department begins investigations in response to formal complaints that are filed against an institution, but it also proactively initiates compliance reviews for a number of reasons.
Indiana University at Bloomington swiftly issued a statement Thursday, noting that it was on the list because of a compliance review.
"This type of compliance review is distinct and separate from investigations that arise from complaints to OCR, and the office has confirmed that it has received no complaints against IU Bloomington that would have triggered an investigation," the statement said.
But department officials played down that distinction.
“Compliance reviews are not random audits of schools,” Dorie Nolt, the department's spokeswoman, said. "They are selected based on various sources of information, including statistical data, news reports and information from parents, advocacy groups and community organizations.”
Nolt declined to say which of the investigations at the 55 colleges began as a result of a complaint and which were begun as proactive compliance reviews.
“Both compliance reviews and complaint-based investigations can include narrower allegations pertaining to one or more individuals; issues related to school policies or practices that are systemic in nature and impact entire student bodies, schools, or school systems; or a combination of these elements,” she added.
The disclosure comes as Vice President Joe Biden called on colleges this week to do a better job of combating sexual assault on their campus. The administration on Tuesday released dozens of new recommendations to colleges as well as new legal guidance for complying with Title IX.
Publishing the list of which colleges are currently under investigation is also the latest indication by the Education Department that it is increasingly taking a harder line with colleges when it comes to sexual assault.
The administration announced this week that OCR had changed its policy to require negotiations with colleges over voluntary resolution to conclude within 90 days of beginning -- an effort that some victims’ advocates said would prevent institutions from stalling the negotiations. OCR investigators are also having a more visible presence on campuses when they conduct inquiries, the administration said.
The Education Department also took the unusual step on Monday of finding that an institution is out of compliance with Title IX and warning that it may lose all federal funding. The OCR said that Tufts University’s current policies and procedures were violating federal law and that it may seek to cut off federal funding to the institution if it does not recommit to a voluntary resolution agreement that it backed out of last week to protest the finding of noncompliance, which it rejects.
Dana Bolger of Know Your IX, an advocacy group which has been pushing for greater transparency and more stringent enforcement in Title IX sexual assault cases, said she was “thrilled” that the department released the list.
“It’s great that the department has published this information,” she said. “You can see that it’s been going viral and trending on Facebook because parents and students are really happy to have this information.”
Bolger also said the group would like to see the department go further and provide more information about Title IX cases on an ongoing basis and in a user-friendly format on the administration’s new NotAlone.gov portal for sexual assault prevention resources.
The list posted on the Education Department's website received an "unprecedented" volume of traffic on Thursday, according to Nolt, the department spokeswoman. The site was also unavailable for several hours Thursday after the list was posted.
The press release containing the list of colleges under investigation fueled a record-setting day for web traffic to ED.gov, she said, as the site hit an all time record for page views and visits from social media sites. The list was also the most-viewed .gov website across all such sites tracked by the Government Services Administration's analytics program.