Schools’ Full Response to US List of 55 Facing Sex Assault Probes

By ABC News

May 1, 2014 10:08pm

The US Department of Education released the names of 55 colleges and universities across the nation that receive federal funds and are under investigation for mishandling sexual violence and harassment complaints from students.

These are the responses by some of the schools named by ABC’s “World News” in a piece that aired Thursday, May 1, 2014.

Statement from Southern Methodist University’s Kim Cobb:

SMU applauds the U.S. Department of Education’s efforts to eradicate sexual violence on college campuses and to provide universities with additional tools to combat sexual assault. Our goals are the same.

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 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.

Comment from Ohio State’s Gary D. Lewis Jr.:

As follow-up to your inquiry, the background is that over the past several years, Ohio State has been partnering with the Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights (OCR) on a proactive review of the University’s Title IX policies and procedures for combatting student sexual violence and harassment.  Throughout that process, which is now winding down, OCR has consistently told us that Ohio State has impressive protocols and resources for combatting sexual harassment, that no major concerns or findings have been identified, and that our protocols could serve as a model for other schools around the country.

These proactive efforts are different from complaint-driven investigations included on the list, as Ohio State is not under investigation for any Title IX complaints about sexual harassment or assault.  We have been grateful for our collaboration with the Department and we will vigorously continue work on our shared goal of ensuring a safe and healthy campus climate for our students and for all members of the University community.  The Ohio State University unequivocally shares the Department of Education’s interest in protecting our students from sexual harassment and assault and upholding the vitally important aims of Title IX.

Finally, if it will provide more clarity, please see Ohio State’s Title IX policies and protocols, at our Title IX website at http://titleix.osu.edu.

Statement from University of Michigan spokesman Rick Fitzgerald:

You asked for comment about the release of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights list of 55 investigations.

The release of this report, the White House Task Force recommendations earlier in the week and the OCR investigation under way here all help raise awareness about the very important issue of sexual misconduct.

At U-M, we have been cooperating with OCR since the investigation was announced in February. To help raise awareness we posted the OCR letter online when we received it and shared information about the investigation with our students, faculty and staff.  Here is the link: http://www.vpcomm.umich.edu/pa/key/OCRInvestigation.html 

At the University of Michigan we are proud to be a leader in the area of sexual assault prevention and awareness and yet we are confident that we will learn even more through this process.

Statement from UC Berkeley’s Beth Nitzberg and Janet Gilmore:

Sexual assault on college campuses is a critical issue and we will cooperate fully with the investigation. On  Feb. 25, Chancellor Dirks sent a letter to the campus community stating clearly that sexual assault will not be tolerated in our community.  Much has been done to strengthen the campus’ handling of these issues, but we understand that there is always room for improvement.  We look forward to continuing to work with campus professionals, students, and others, to take further strides in addressing this important matter.

Sexual assault on college campuses is a critical issue and we will cooperate fully with the investigation. On  Feb. 25, Chancellor Dirks sent a letter to the campus community stating clearly that sexual assault will not be tolerated in our community.  Much has been done to strengthen the campus’ handling of these issues, but we understand that there is always room for improvement.  We look forward to continuing to work with campus professionals, students, and others, to take further strides in addressing this important matter.

 

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