The Department of Education today released a list of 55 schools which are having their Title IX protocols investigated. Ohio State was on the list, but Buckeye spokesman Gary Lewis said that is not an indication of problems at OSU.
“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 combating 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 combating 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.”
Lewis also provided a link to the university’s Title IX policies.
And Ohio State isn’t the only school saying they fall into this category of schools* that are being looked at despite the the lack of a filed complaint. For instance, Indiana University tells CNN:
“This type of compliance review is distinct and separate from investigations that arise from complaints to OCR, and the office has confirmed that it has received no complaints against IU Bloomington that would have triggered an investigation. As OCR explained to campus officials, it is in the process of conducting compliance reviews on numerous campuses throughout the country, and individual institutions have been chosen randomly based on size, geographic location, type of campus community (commuter vs. residential) and other factors.”
The Department of Education release says specifically that their list “includes investigations opened because of complaints received by OCR and those initiated by OCR as compliance reviews.” (Emphasis added.)
So is it indeed the case that accused violators are being included as part of the same list that also names randomly selected schools? I’ve got a message into the Department of Education to find out.
UPDATE: And the answer is that schools aren’t quite being randomly selected, but they may be chosen based on things like past history, media reports, information from local advocacy groups, and statistics. The Department of Education won’t comment on the circumstances of any individual case, so it’s impossible to note on which basis OSU was chosen.
UPDATE II: Three Ohio universities (Ohio State, Dennison, Wittenberg) made the list, and Senator Sherrod Brown has issued the following statement in response – “There is no place for sexual violence in our society – especially against young men and women in our nation’s colleges and universities. By creating universal standards, the Department of Education is ensuring that all students can receive education in a safe environment with proper procedures in place to protect students.”
*Also saying they were selected for a compliance review without a complaint being filed: UMass, Amherst; University of Colorado, Denver; Emory University; University of Hawaii at Manoa