As reported last week, The White House Task Force To Protect Students From Sexual Assault issued its first report. Simultaneously, OCR issued Q&As on Title IX obligations and related documents to help guide institutions and to reinforce the government’s interest in pushing colleges and universities to better respond to campus sexual assaults. The effort to protect students on college and university campuses from sexual assaults is unquestionably a good thing, although one might question some of the government’s tactics.
Towards the end of last week, the Department of Education turned the heat up on institutions. On May 1, DOE made public a list of 55 higher education institutions currently the subject of OCR Title IX investigations, both complaint and compliance driven. Bear in mind that these are simply situations in which a complaint has been filed, whether warranted or not, or the institution is the subject of a compliance review. While the DOE’s press release stated that an “appearance on this list and being the subject of a Title IX investigation in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law,” it seems that this latest tactic is intended as the equivalent of a “perp walk” designed to put pressure on institutions by making them look bad, although they have not been found in violation of the law in any way. Although OCR noted that the list will be updated regularly, thus sending a message well beyond the 55 institutions named, it is notable that OCR did not indicate any intention to publicize, in a similar manner, those institutions cleared of any allegations of misconduct. Continue Reading