On Thursday, May 1, the U.S. Department of Education announced the names of colleges and universities facing investigations into the way they have handled sexual assault allegations made by their students.
The list of colleges under federal investigation includes small and large schools, as well as public and private schools. Some of the names include Ohio State, Michigan State University, University of Michigan Ann-Arbor, Knox College, Princeton and Penn State University.
Government officials made it very clear that there is no presumption of guilt and that the investigation is about the complaints, not the judgments. Details of the individual cases were not released by the DOE, but information on some have leaked out.
One involves a former Michigan football player who was recently expelled from the university. When a student group examined the school’s sexual misconduct policy, they determined that Michigan failed to explain or justify the years-long delay between the alleged incident and his expulsion in December.
The DOE investigation was spurred by the Obama administration’s effort to bring more attention to sexual assaults on the nation’s campuses. College investigations into sexual assault cases are done under Title IX guidelines. Title IX prohibits schools that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of gender. It is the same law which guarantees female athletes equal access to athletics. It also regulates college’s handling of sexual assaults.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in five female college students are sexually assaulted. President Obama has appointed a task force to look into the issue and to review the treatment of rape victims.
Approximately 50 percent of the U.S. states had at least one school on the list of colleges under federal investigation. Massachusetts took the top spot with six schools. Pennsylvania has five, Colorado, California and New York each had four schools on the list.