Education Law

Harvard Law is on list of 55 schools being investigated for sexual-assault policies

The U.S. Department of Education has released a list of 55 colleges and universities which are being investigated over the way they handle sexual-assault complaints.

This is the first time that the Department of Education has disclosed such a comprehensive list of institutions under investigation for alleged violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, reports the New York Times. The law prohibits schools that receive federal funding of discriminating against students by gender.

The schools on the list range from elite Ivy League schools like Harvard University, Princeton University and Dartmouth College to large public schools like Arizona State University, Florida State University, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University and Penn State University. Also named were several small liberal schools like Swarthmore College and Amherst College, as well as several religious schools like Regis University and Catholic University of America. Only one law school made the list: Harvard Law School.

“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,” said Catherine Lhamon, the assistant education secretary for civil rights, in a statement.

The Times reports that the Obama Administration has stepped up its investigation of these schools as a result of several highly publicized sexual assault incidents. The list was made public after the administration’s sexual assault task force released a report on Monday encouraging schools to do more to prevent and combat rapes and sexual assaults. That same day, the Department of Education issued updated guidelines (PDF) explaining schools’ responsibilities for addressing sexual violence.

Meanwhile, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told the Times that she plans to conduct her own survey of 350 colleges and universities nationwide to evaluate how they handle sexual assault cases. “We’ll continue working to help schools provide the highest level of responsiveness and protections for victims and to require the federal government to provide the highest level of transparency on compliance and enforcement,” she said.

Related article: “Lawsuits, civil-rights complaints help bring attention to college sexual assaults”

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