May 2, 2014 — The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights on Thursday released a list of 55 colleges and universities that are under investigation for how they addressed claims of sexual assault and harassment on their campuses, Reuters reports (Nawaguna, Reuters, 5/1).
According to CNN, the list marks the first time that the Department of Education has made information about these types of investigations available to the public (Hanna et al., CNN, 5/2). The move comes as the federal government is increasing pressure on colleges to stop sexual assaults on college campuses. The agency expects that making the list public will boost dialogue about sexual assault and push schools to bolster efforts to stop the crimes, Reuters reports (Reuters, 5/1).
Catherine Lhamon, the Department of Education's assistant secretary for civil rights, said, "We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights."
The list includes colleges and universities from 27 states and Washington, D.C. According to CNN, the list will be continually updated and made available to the public upon request. It does not contain any details beyond when the investigation of each particular institution began (CNN, 5/2).
According to Reuters, the listed colleges and universities are being investigated under Title IX, which ensures that students are not denied the chance to fully participate in a federally funded school's education programs or activities because of their gender (Reuters, 5/1).
Lhamon noted in releasing the list that a school's inclusion on the list "in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law" (CNN, 5/2).
Education officials said that the department would reach a resolution with any schools found in violation of Title IX and that schools that refuse to cooperate or comply would risk additional enforcement action, such as Department of Justice action or the removal of federal funding (Reuters, 5/1).
In response to requests from CNN for comments, many of the colleges listed indicated that they are complying with the investigations and take the matter seriously (CNN, 5/1).