The Department of Education will now post the names of colleges and universities being investigated for not reporting or under-reporting cases of sexual abuse of college students on their campuses. The list includes 55 schools including USC and Occidental College here in the LA area.
Civil Rights Attorney Gloria Allred is pleased. So is, Francesca Bessey from the Student Coalition Against Rape (SCAR).
Bessey says she was raped and that's why she got involved in the fight to expose publicly schools of higher education in this country. Allred is and is continuing to represent a number of students who have fought their schools for not doing enough to hear their cries.
In the future schools placed under investigation will be automatically added to the list. By publicly showing the schools the DOE believes they are creating more transparency.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- 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.
Here is the list of schools under open investigation:
Arizona State University Butte-Glen Community College District Occidental College University of California-Berkeley University of Southern California Regis University University of Colorado at Boulder University of Colorado at Denver University of Denver University of Connecticut Catholic University of America Florida State University Emory University University of Hawaii at Manoa University of Idaho Knox College University of Chicago Indiana University-Bloomington Vincennes University Amherst College Boston University Emerson College Harvard College Harvard University - Law School University of Massachusetts-Amherst Frostburg State University Michigan State University University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Guilford College University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Minot State University Dartmouth College Princeton University Cuny Hunter College Hobart and William Smith Colleges Sarah Lawrence College Suny at Binghamton Denison University Ohio State University Wittenberg University Oklahoma State University Carnegie Mellon University Franklin and Marshall College Pennsylvania State University Swarthmore College Temple University Vanderbilt University Southern Methodist University The University of Texas-Pan American College of William and Mary University of Virginia Washington State University University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Bethany College