55 U.S. colleges under investigation for mishandling sexual assaults

2014-05-02T06:15:00Z 2014-08-28T19:12:34Z 55 U.S. colleges under investigation for mishandling sexual assaultsBy MARTIN KIDSTON of the Missoulian missoulian.com

Calling it a step toward transparency, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights on Thursday released a list of 55 colleges and universities under investigation for alleged mishandling of sexual assault and harassment reports.

The University of Montana was checked off the list in 2012 when the departments of Justice and Education concluded their investigation into the school’s handling of cases dating back to 2009.

The investigation ended when UM signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal agencies and agreed to take certain steps to correct the problem. The school’s enrollment dipped as a partial result of the investigation and, for a time, it was mockingly billed as “rape nation.”

Yet Thursday’s list – the first of its kind released by the DOE – reveals the scope of the problem facing campuses across the country and the possible mishandling of cases by some institutions.

The list comes just days after the White House released guidelines to help colleges and universities address the problem of sexual assault. National figures suggest one in five women will be raped while in college.

While falling on the federal list ramps up the scrutiny institutions are under, Kim Brown Campbell, the new campus assault prevention coordinator at UM, said it’s not necessarily a negative thing.

UM emerged from its investigation with new protocols, procedures and programs in place to help stem the problem. Many of the efforts were implemented more than a year ago.

However, recent steps have included the UM Office of Public Safety, which received approval from the DOJ and is ready to release its new rape investigation and response procedures, as well as its new training protocols.

Measures gleaned from the White House report on “bringing in the bystander” will also be put in place at both the Mountain Campus and Missoula College this fall. Brown Campbell’s position as the assault prevention coordinator is being funded through a DOJ grant.

“A lot of good came from the investigation,” she said. “I feel we can serve as some type of model that can help other campuses.”


Thursday’s list didn’t include any schools from Montana, though it did include those from surrounding states. The University of Idaho is on the list, along with the University of Colorado, Washington State University and Minot State University in North Dakota.

The 55 colleges and universities are being investigated for alleged mishandling of sexual assault cases under Title IX and have not yet been found to have violated the law. Title IX is the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education and by institutions that receive federal money.

Neena Chaudhry, senior counsel and director of equal opportunities in athletics for the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., said Thursday that while the investigations play out, the new DOE report and White House guidelines could help spur national dialogue.

“Anything to help draw attention to the issue and raise awareness of the rights of students and the responsibilities of institutions under Title IX is a good thing,” Chaudhry said. “The legal requirements aren’t new, but the emphasis the DOE and the White House are placing on this is warranted, given how many cases we’re seeing.”

Peggy Kuhr, vice president of integrated communications at UM, said the scrutiny placed on UM during the federal investigation resulted in rigorous public dialogue and improvements to campus protocol.

“There are benefits to the whole process and benefits to going through the investigation and reaching a cooperative agreement,” Kuhr said. “By putting an emphasis on this topic of campus sexual assault, it allows for the community to have a conversation for starters about a difficult topic.”

The complete list from the DOE release.

AZ- Arizona State University

CA - Butte-Glen Community College District

CA - Occidental College

CA University of California-Berkeley

CA University of Southern California

CO Regis University

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

GA Emory University

HI University of Hawaii at Manoa

ID University of Idaho

IL Knox College

IL University of Chicago

IN Indiana University-Bloomington

IN Vincennes University

MA Amherst College

MA Boston University

MA Emerson College

MA Harvard College

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 Guilford College

NC University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

ND Minot State University

NH Dartmouth College

NJ Princeton University

NY Cuny Hunter College

NY Hobart and William Smith Colleges

NY Sarah Lawrence College

NY Suny at Binghamton

OH Denison University

OH Ohio State University

OH Wittenberg University

OK Oklahoma State University

PA Carnegie Mellon University

PA Franklin and Marshall College

PA Pennsylvania State University

PA Swarthmore College

PA Temple University

TN Vanderbilt 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 Bethany College

WV West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260, or at martin.kidston@missoulian.com.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. Objective observer
    Report Abuse
    Objective observer - May 07, 2014 10:31 am
    Actually your contention that the investigation by the DOJ did not scare away a single student is your opinion which you did not back with any facts. Who knows whether the dip in enrollment was a result of the DOJ investigation and/or the lack of prosecution of rape cases? We'll probably never know.
  2. Leadfoot
    Report Abuse
    Leadfoot - May 02, 2014 9:49 pm
    "The school’s enrollment dipped as a partial result of the (DOJ) investigation...." Who do you think believes you?! No one. This was the writer's opinion & not supported by the facts. The investigation by the DOJ didn't scare away a single student, but the cover up & the exposure of lack of prosecution of rape cases by the City & Co. Attys did. I love this university, it's students & athletes. The huge enrollment reduction is directly connected to how the above forces exposed an obvious danger to women living within Missoula &/or attending the U. These parents believe that their daughters (& some sons) are not safe here. Don't believe me? Look at the enrollments at Montana State, or any of the colleges in Montana. They are up. No other institution in Montana was on this list. There is a reason for that. These two statements are related. Fix this or continue to have reduced enrollments, along with extremely expensive building expansions that have, at this time, a true goal of miss-directing attention away from the U's administration's extreme shortcomings, & of enticing students to our campus. Spend some of that money on surveillance cameras blanketing the entire campus, buildings, & parking. This will aid law-enforcement & lead to the apprehension of perps with hard, undeniable evidence. If student safety is a true concern of yours, you'll install the cameras. Good Luck. Parents are much smarter than you believe. So are the readers of your paper.
  3. PJarvis
    Report Abuse
    PJarvis - May 02, 2014 6:10 pm

    Given the subject, given your portrayed desire to be transparent, and given the UM's high propaganda in promoting itself the "Gold Standard" in sexual assaults, why have you not done an article on the UM Student of the Year? Perhaps because the UM wants to keep last year's SofY quiet. That's the rumor anyway. A rumor that has spread considerably, and one that might be somewhat to blame for the lightness of the spring quarter.

    This, left on our table as we went for more coffee this morning. But we wanted time to corroborate the information, which appears valid after a little basic research. So shame on the Missoulian. Clearly the Missoulian thinks the university administrators more valuable in protecting than those parents sending their children to college.

    To whoever thinking university administrators are bright, this should abrogate that notion. You do the research, otherwise you will not believe. Low enrollment explained.
  4. dsrobinsMT
    Report Abuse
    dsrobinsMT - May 02, 2014 3:16 pm
    It's amusing to review this list of schools under investigation by the Department of Education and FBI while recalling the hullaballoo that Missoula County Prosecutor Freddie Van Valkenberg raised when the University of Montana was the first school in the nation to undergo such a process. University officials chose the right course to cooperate with the investigation for the benefit of all and reached a mutually acceptable agreement that brought the matter to a close. Freddie, on the other hand, chose confrontation and non-cooperation instead even going to the extreme of spending taxpayer dollars (100,000.00) to pursue a frivolous lawsuit against the Department of Jisticce. The outcome of that lawsuit is still unknown, but it is highly unlikely that Missoula County and its taxpayers will emerge as anything but losers thanks do Freddie's obstructionism.
  5. MiddleFinger
    Report Abuse
    MiddleFinger - May 02, 2014 10:40 am

    Rog is right. That's why I'm starting a petition drive to get tampon machines in the mens bathrooms on campus. You never know when you need one to plug a bullet wound.

  6. Roger
    Report Abuse
    Roger - May 02, 2014 7:27 am
    Male college students are denied equal treatment at UM and many other schools - for example, UM does not have a men's studies program, while it does have women's studies. That's blatant anti-male discrimination.
  7. MiddleFinger
    Report Abuse
    MiddleFinger - May 01, 2014 6:09 pm

    So its newsworthy that the U of M did not make the list. Hmmm.

    Kind of a low bar, but UM will take what it can get, right?

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