Just days after the White House released its recommendations on preventing and responding to sexual assaults on college campuses, the federal Department of Education has put out a list of 55 schools that are being investigated for their alleged mishandling of sexual violence and harassment. And four schools on the list—Binghamton University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Sarah Lawrence College, and Hunter College—are located in New York State.
According to a release on the Education Department's website, the campuses are among those under investigation by the Office of Civil Rights for violating federal law Title IX's regulations regarding sexual violence. The law prohibits gender discrimination at schools receiving federal funds; increasingly, victims of on-campus sexual assault have filed complaints against universities for failing to protect them and/or adequately address claims of rape sexual violence.
The schools listed include Harvard, University of Chicago, Dartmouth and Princeton, and the Education Department cautions that these schools are merely under review, and have not necessarily violated Title IX. "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. " 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."
Officials at Princeton say investigations into their handling of sexual assault complaints began in 2010; according to their most recent crime report, there were 17 reported on-campus forcible sexual offenses in 2012, 14 of which occurred in residential facilities. And officials at Hunter College, a CUNY school, claim their inclusion on the list is the result of one withdrawn report. "Hunter College is on this list because, 15 months ago, a student filed a complaint, then six months later withdrew it,” John Rose, dean for Diversity and Compliance, said in a statement. “As is OCR’s frequent practice, they used the occasion as an opportunity for a general review of how Hunter handles complaints related to alleged sexual misconduct.”
Columbia University was not included on the Education Department's list, though this week 23 students filed three separate federal complaints alleging the school failed to comply with Title IX, along with Title II and the Clery Act.