Sexual assault on college campuses has long been a disturbingly common yet overlooked phenomenon. However, thanks to the internet, many stories of on-campus assaults have recently gone viral, bringing more attention to the issue and encouraging more students to speak up. This media frenzy, along with complaints against several universities, has led to a new wave of federal investigations into the handling of sexual assault cases on college campuses.
These investigations are conducted by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. They examine violations of Title IX, the law that forbids schools from discriminating against students based on sex, and the Clery Act, a law that requires schools participating in federal financial aid programs to report sexual assault statistics to the federal government. Usually, if a university is found to have violated either of these laws, the investigation results in a substantial fine and requirements that a school amend its practices. For example, Yale University was fined $165,000 earlier this year for failing to report instances of sexual assault and omitting crime statistics from the Yale-New Haven Hospital in its annual report.
Is your school under investigation? Do you think they should be? Here’s a list of some of the universities in the hot seat.
Dartmouth College is under investigation for failing to report crimes such as sexual assault on campus. The students who filed the complaint also allege that hate crimes, LGBT, racial, and religious discrimination were taking place on campus, as well as extreme hazing.
Swarthmore College students filed a complaint accusing the school of inaction in sexual assault cases, and failing to report sexual assaults to the government. While under federal investigation, Swarthmore has also hired an outside consultant to review their policies, and pledged to make changes.
University of Southern California students filed a 110-page Title IX complaint against the school for mishandling rape cases. The suit contained stories from more than 100 students.
The University of California at Berkeley has been accused of discouraging students from reporting sexual assaults to outside authorities. A Clery complaint against the school is under review.
Occidental College is accused of discouraging the prosecution and reporting of sexual assault cases on campus. They are under investigation for violations of Title IX and the Clery Act.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is under investigation for multiple violations after five women, along with former dean of students Melinda Manning, filed a federal complaint. Manning says she was forced to underreport sexual assault cases while working for the University. The case gained national attention because complainant Lauren Gambill was under threat of expulsion simply for reporting her rape.
Cedarville University has been placed under investigation for failing to adopt adequate procedures to handle student and employee complaints of sexual assault. They have hired attorney Gina Maisto Smith to advise the University on its sexual assault policies. Smith has also been hired by several other schools, including Occidental and UNC-Chapel Hill.
Do you think your school belongs on this list? Want to do something about it? First, know your rights. Here’s how to report Clery Act and Title IX violations. If you need help and aren’t getting it from your school, there are outside resources in every state.