Anti-Crime Group and Education Dept. Differ on Ruling

August 12, 2009

Security on Campus, a group that pushes for tougher responses to crime on campus, on Tuesday issued a statement saying that a recent ruling by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights would force colleges to take firmer action against students who harass other students on online gossip sites, even if those sites aren't part of colleges. In the ruling, the department did not directly address that issue, and in fact rejected the complaint in question. But Security on Campus believes that because the rejection was not over the nature of the Web sites, this marks a shift in federal policy. "Schools have the same obligation to respond to sexual harassment in cyberspace that they have when the harassment occurs in the classroom – according to a first of its kind ruling," said the group's announcement. However, the Education Department sees things differently. A spokesman for the department said: "OCR would not characterize this as a 'landmark ruling.' In this case, OCR found insufficient evidence of a violation of Title IX. The OCR resolution letter speaks for itself in explaining the parameters of OCR's investigation and findings and should not be interpreted beyond those parameters." The dispute involves postings on the defunct Web site Juicy Campus.

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