published Thursday, May 1st, 2014

55 colleges, universities face U.S. federal sex assault probe

In this Jan. 22, 2014, file photo, President Barack Obama signs a memorandum creating a task force to respond to campus rapes during an event for the Council on Women and Girls in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
In this Jan. 22, 2014, file photo, President Barack Obama signs a memorandum creating a task force to respond to campus rapes during an event for the Council on Women and Girls in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

UNDER INVESTIGATION

State -- Institution

AZ -- Arizona State University

CA -- Butte-Glen Community College District

CA -- Occidental College

CA -- University of California-Berkeley

CA -- University of Southern California

CO -- Regis University

CO -- University of Colorado at Boulder

CO -- University of Colorado at Denver

CO -- University of Denver

CT -- University of Connecticut

DC -- Catholic University of America

FL -- Florida State University

GA -- Emory University

HI -- University of Hawaii at Manoa

ID -- University of Idaho

IL -- Knox College

IL -- University of Chicago

IN -- Indiana University-Bloomington

IN -- Vincennes University

MA -- Amherst College

MA -- Boston University

MA -- Emerson College

MA -- Harvard College

MA -- Harvard University - Law School

MA -- University of Massachusetts-Amherst

MD -- Frostburg State University

MI -- Michigan State University

MI -- University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

NC -- Guilford College

NC -- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

ND -- Minot State University

NH -- Dartmouth College

NJ -- Princeton University

NY -- CUNY Hunter College

NY -- Hobart and William Smith Colleges

NY -- Sarah Lawrence College

NY -- SUNY at Binghamton

OH -- Denison University

OH -- Ohio State University

OH -- Wittenberg University

OK -- Oklahoma State University

PA -- Carnegie Mellon University

PA -- Franklin and Marshall College

PA -- Pennsylvania State University

PA -- Swarthmore College

PA -- Temple University

TN -- Vanderbilt University

TX -- Southern Methodist University

TX -- The University of Texas-Pan American

VA -- College of William and Mary

VA -- University of Virginia

WA -- Washington State University

WI -- University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

WV -- Bethany College

WV -- West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine

Source: U.S. Department of Education

WASHINGTON — The Education Department on Thursday took the unprecedented step of releasing the names of the 55 colleges and universities currently facing a Title IX investigation over their handling of sexual abuse complaints.

The release came two days after a White House task force promised greater government transparency on sexual assault in higher education. Going forward, the department said, it will keep an updated list of schools facing such an investigation and make it available upon request.

The schools range from big public universities like Ohio State University, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Arizona State University to private schools like Knox College in Illinois, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and Catholic University of America in the District of Columbia. Ivy League schools like Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth are also on the list.

The agency previously would confirm such an investigation when asked, but students and others were often unaware of them.

"We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue," Catherine E. Lhamon, the department's assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a statement.

Lhamon said a school's appearance on the list does not mean that it has violated the law but that an investigation is ongoing.

Title IX prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds. It is the same law that guarantees girls equal access to sports, but it also regulates institutions' handling of sexual violence and increasingly is being used by victims who say their schools failed to protect them.

Ada Meloy, general counsel for the American Council on Education, a higher education group, said most of the schools were probably aware there was such an investigation.

"I think that every college and university in the current environment is concerned about the need to be very attentive to what they are doing with regard to policies and procedures" related to sexual assault on campuses, Meloy said.

Citing research, the White House has said that 1 in 5 female students is assaulted. President Barack Obama appointed a task force comprised of his Cabinet members to review the issue after hearing complaints about the poor treatment of campus rape victims and the hidden nature of such crimes.

The task force announced the creation of a website, notalone.gov, offering resources for victims and information about past enforcement actions on campuses. The task force also made a wide range of recommendations to schools, such as identifying confidential victims' advocates and conducting surveys to better gauge the frequency of sexual assault on their campuses.

The department publicized guidance on Title IX's sexual assault provisions in 2011, and complaints by students have since increased. Complaints, however, don't always lead to an investigation.

The department can withhold federal funding from a school that doesn't comply with the law, but it so far has not used that power and instead has negotiated voluntary resolutions for violators.

Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., have said non-compliance under the law is "far too common." They say a lack of federal resources is partly to blame for that, and they've sought more money to ensure timely and proper investigations.

Another law that campus sexual assault cases fall under is the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to report crime statistics on or near their campuses. It also requires schools to develop prevention policies and ensure victims their basic rights. Investigations under this law are not included in the list that was released.

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