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CALL 6: Number of universities facing sexual violence investigations growing

Posted at 5:56 PM, Oct 14, 2016

The number of colleges and universities in Indiana facing scrutiny for how they handle allegations of sexual violence is growing, records show.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights now has open Title IX investigations at eight Indiana institutions:   Grace College and Seminary, Hanover College, IU Bloomington, IU Purdue Fort Wayne, Purdue University West Lafayette, the University of Notre Dame, Valparaiso University and Vincennes University.

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The federal government has launched many of the investigations in the last few months including IUPUI which began on September 1, records show.

Title IX requires universities to investigate reports of sexual misconduct, including rape and sexual harassment, on campus.

The reasons behind federal Title IX investigations are typically not made public before they’re resolved, however the probes typically arise from a student complaint.

Dr. Mahri Irvine, Director of Campus Initiatives at the Indiana Coalition To End Sexual Assault, said she’s encouraged to see more students filing complaints with the Office For Civil Rights against their universities.

“It’s actually a really good thing, because it means students are learning about their rights,” said Dr. Irvine. “It means the students are feeling empowered and strong enough to come forward. It takes an incredible amount of courage for a survivor not only to say ‘I think my case was mishandled,’ but ‘I’m going to confront my college or university about it.’”

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More than 213 institutions currently have pending Title IX sexual violence investigations by the federal Office for Civil Rights, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

At least three of the open investigations in Indiana have been ongoing since 2014, and have yet to be resolved, records show.

The Chronicle of Higher Education created a Title IX tracker where you can search for institutions under federal investigation for how the campus handles sexual misconduct.

Universities across the country are facing increased federal scrutiny and public expectations when it comes to how they handle sexual misconduct.

They risk losing federal funding if they fail to comply with Title IX requirements. 

The Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault has launched a statewide partnership in which they will work with universities to improve their policies and procedures when it comes to sexual violence, including how they treat victims.

“The goal is to reduce and ultimately eliminate all acts of sexual violence in Indiana,” said Irvine.

Find more resources on Title IX investigations below: