Federal investigations search for Title IX indiscretions

This article is part of a spread the Torch ran on the issue of sexual assault.

In April, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights released a list of 55 colleges and universities under investigation for mishandling sexual violence and harassment complaints, which is a violation of Title IX.

Every school system–K-12, colleges and universities–that receive federal funding must follow Title IX, a federal law that demands students should not be rejected for participation in educational and other events because of gender.

Since the Department of Education’s release of the 55 colleges and universities under investigation, 30 institutions have been added to the list, making it 85 colleges and universities under investigation.

Out of the 85 institutions, seven of the schools that are currently under federal investigation are from New York. Binghamton University is in the midst of controversy over sexual violence cases, but was recently removed by the Office of Civil Rights. At Columbia University complaints have been filed, but no investigation has been opened.

In April of this year, 23 students filed Title IX, Title II and Clery Act noncompliance complaints against Columbia University with the Department of Education, according to an article in Time magazine.

As of this month, six months later, there has been no response by the Office of Civil Rights on investigating the complaints and pursuing a federal investigation. The Columbia University office of media relations declined to comment when asked about the recent media attention.

The 7 colleges and universities in the state of New York that are under federal investigation are:

-Hobart and William Smith Colleges

-Elmira College

-Pace University

-Hunter College

-Sarah Lawrence College

-St. Thomas Aquinas College

-Stony Brook University

Every school under investigation did not return a message seeking comment.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York are facing public backlash after The New York Times published a front-page story about a rape case in July of this year.

According to the Department of Education, investigating a sexual-assault case can take up to 60 or more calendar days.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges closed the case in less than two weeks in September 2013, according to The New York Times article.

On the school panels’ 12th day of the investigation, they closed the case, clearing the three athletes involved from all counts, according to the Times report.

The panelist talked over the possible sexual assault victim, twisted the evidence presented as well as reports from the police and hospital, and questioned if the possible victim was telling the truth, according to the Times.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges are now facing a federal investigation for mishandling the sexual assault case and having improperly trained panelists.

Hobart and William Smith violated the privacy laws by disclosing Anna’s full name in a letter to many of the students.

“I’m surprised they didn’t attach my picture,” Anna told the Times. The school said that they were obligated to identify Anna to students who might have been called to testify, the Times reports.

However, Anna then agreed to release her first name, a photo and a video to the Times for the article.

Now, as a result of media attention, Anna has the support of people all over the country.

Some people are pleased with the active role the federal government is taking on being transparent with who is being investigated, but some fear that the efforts will be ineffective if it ends here.

Sophomore criminal justice major Jazmine Hayes is concerned about what the Department of Education plans on doing to prevent these events from happening in the future.

“After all of this is over and if the percentage [of incidents] doesn’t go down, then something was done wrong, it was handled wrong,” Hayes said. “If these schools that are under investigation aren’t fined or found guilty, then why would anyone want to go to that school?”