WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Department of Education is investigating Indiana University-Bloomington and Vincennes University over their handling of sexual abuse complaints.
The federal agency said Thursday the schools are among 55 nationwide being investigated over their handling of sexual abuse complaints under a federal law mandating equal opportunities for men and women.
That law also regulates schools’ handling of sexual violence and is increasingly being used by victims who say their schools didn’t protect them.
IU spokesman Mark Land says the federal agency has confirmed that it didn’t receive any complaints against IU-Bloomington “that would have triggered an investigation.”
He says IU and the other schools were chosen randomly for “a routine compliance review” of their handling of sexual abuse and harassment complaints.
Vincennes University did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
The release of the names of the universities and colleges involved in the Education Department investigation 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.
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.
The list of the 55 colleges and universities currently facing a sexual abuse investigation under the Title IX law, according to the Education Department:
|AZ||ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY|
|CA||BUTTE-GLEN COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT|
|CA||UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY|
|CA||UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA|
|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|
|HI||UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT MANOA|
|ID||UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO|
|IL||UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO|
|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||UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL|
|ND||MINOT STATE UNIVERSITY|
|NY||CUNY HUNTER COLLEGE|
|NY||HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES|
|NY||SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE|
|NY||SUNY AT BINGHAMTON|
|OH||OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY|
|OK||OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY|
|PA||CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY|
|PA||FRANKLIN AND MARSHALL COLLEGE|
|PA||PENNSYLVANIA STATE 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||WEST VIRGINIA SCHOOL OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE|
Source: U.S. Department of Education