Ed Dept: SMU among 55 schools facing sex assault investigation - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Ed Dept: SMU among 55 schools facing sex assault investigation

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SMU Southern Methodist University SMU Southern Methodist University
AP Education Writer

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. Southern Methodist University in Dallas is one of them.

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 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.

SMU issued a statement on Thursday that detailed its recent actions regarding sex assaults.

"The matters under review by the Education Department have been investigated by SMU and predate our University task force review of sexual misconduct policies and procedures," the statement read. "The University has been aggressive in putting into practice wide-ranging new procedures to inform and protect our students, to provide prompt and effective resolution of complaints, and to hold violators accountable while treating all students fairly."

"SMU continually reviews and updates its programs in comparison with national benchmarks, and we are pleased that the White House also has made these matters a priority for all American universities. No issue is more important than the health and safety of our students."

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.

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.

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

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