Why 55 Colleges Are Being Investigated For Their Handling Of Sexual Assault Cases

University Virginia Lawn Rotunda Quad CampusVia Wikimedia CommonsThe University of Virginia is currently under investigation for potential Title IX violations.

The United States Department of Education released a list earlier this week of 55 colleges under investigation for potential Title IX violations, a federal law which in part sets standards for higher education sexual assault policies.

Tyler Kingkade at The Huffington Post has a good breakdown of why these specific schools are currently under investigation by the DOE:

“While most of the investigations were initiated by complaints from students or alumni, nine of the 55 schools identified by the department Thursday are the subject of compliance reviews, which are proactive investigations by the department’s Office for Civil Rights,” Kingkade writes.

While at least one of the nine schools targeted by OCR — Indiana University Bloomington — believed they were being investigated “randomly,” a DOE spokeswoman stated that this was not the case:

Compliance reviews are not random audits of schools — they are selected based on various sources of information, including statistical data, news reports and information from parents, advocacy groups and community organisations … Compliance reviews are initiated in order to remedy possible violations of students’ rights.

The DOE also made a specific point of noting in their initial announcement of these 55 schools 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.”

The Daily Princetonian — the student newspaper of Princeton University — reports that their school’s current Title IX investigation stems from a complaint filed by New England School of Law adjunct professor Wendy Murphy. According to The Princetonian, Murphy has also filed complaints against Harvard University, Harvard Law School, and the University of Virginia — all of which appear on the DOE’s list of active Title IX investigations.

“I asked [OCR] to issue some form of global guidance because the problems at Harvard and Princeton were systemic in higher education,” Murphy told The Princetonian.

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