On Thursday Obama administration has announced 55 colleges and universities that are being investigated for sexual assault complaints.
It is the first time in history when the Department of Education has announced publicly colleges and universities that are being investigated for violations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The current law prohibits gender discrimination at colleges.
The list includes the famous Ivy League institutions like Dartmouth, Harvard and Princeton as well as other well-known private universities like Boston University, the University of Chicago, Swarthmore and the University of Southern California; and public universities including Florida State, the University of Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State. The list also includes less well known institutions like the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.
Catherine E. Lhamon, the assistant education secretary for civil rights has said in her official statement, “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 Obama administration has stepped in after the universities failed to create a healthy and safe environment on their campuses and deal with various official complaints that have been filed.
Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri plans to conduct a survey of 350 colleges and universities in order to monitor the way colleges handle sexual assault cases.
“Today’s move by the Department of Education is an important, helpful step for students and their parents, who until today had no way of knowing whether their school was under investigation for Title IX violations. We’ll continue working to help schools provide the highest level of responsiveness and protections for victims and to require the federal government to provide the highest level of transparency on compliance and enforcement,” he said.
The White House has concluded that many women who have been threatened or have been sexually assaulted are afraid of filing the report since it might become public.
Obama administration urges colleges to provide better assurance of confidentiality for students. Universities are usually trying to keep the lawsuits quiet.
Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, comments, “Information is power. Which is why I am such a staunch supporter of transparency which leads to accountability.”
Student activists are launching the campaigns for universities and the government to be more responsive to the assaults on campuses.
Thus, Rory Gerberg, a Harvard graduate student shares his opinion on that, ” Using the social media site Tumblr, we uploaded photos giving voice to student reactions to laws and policies that take silence as consent. The definition of consent is a core challenge in addressing campus sexual assault and the larger culture of sexism and gender-based violence that allow it to occur.”
Ms. Gerberg added: “Our task is to give voice to the daily forms of violence we too often accept as inevitable. This is precisely why student activism is so important. Since I’ve become a campus advocate numerous students have approached me with their stories.”