Students at the University of North Carolina protest in March 2013 the school's handling of sexual assault cases. / Travis Long, AP
The Department of Education released on Thursday a list of 55 colleges and universities it is investigating for their handling of sexual assaults, an unprecedented move prompted by recommendations from a White House task force.
The department's Office for Civil Rights investigates possible violations of Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities receiving federal funds. OCR considers sexual harassment and violence to be forms of discrimination under the law.
The schools listed run the spectrum in size and mission, from community college to Ivy League schools, from large public universities to smaller private schools. The University of California-Berkeley, Florida State, Ohio State and the University of Virginia are all being investigated.
FSU: School probed for Jameis Winston case But so too are Knox College in Illinois, Emerson College in Boston and Princeton University.
"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," said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. "We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue."
Lhamon noted that although a school is being investigated, it does not necessarily mean that a violation has occurred. OCR opens investigations either in response to a complaint or by proactively starting a compliance review.
The release of the list comes at the recommendation of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, which unveiled its report on Tuesday. Among the changes the task force recommended was greater transparency from the federal government.
Student activists and victim advocates who have pushed the issue to the forefront of the national discussion have long wanted greater transparency from the department on which schools are being investigated.
As they have filed complaints in recent years, students have come forward with their stories of sexual assault on campus. But the burden of drawing attention to a school's problems with sexual assault shouldn't be on survivors, they say.
In January, a group of 39 members of Congress argued for greater transparency in a letter to the department.
"It is currently difficult for students and parents to find the information they need to make informed decisions about the safety of the colleges and universities they plan to attend," they wrote.
At the completion of an investigation, OCR will release whether it entered into a resolution agreement to address compliance concerns or if there was insufficient evidence of a Title IX violation. That must be requested of the department.
Nearly one in five women and one in 16 men is the victim of a completed or attempted rape while in college, according to a 2007 study commissioned by the National Institute of Justice.
A slew of complaints filed over the past few years have led to an increase in investigations by OCR, which has received more complaints only halfway through this fiscal year as it did in the 2013 fiscal year.
As of March 19, it was investigating 47 schools, indicating a 17% increase in the number of investigations in the past six weeks.
The department will maintain a list going forward and release it upon request.
The complete list:
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
BUTTE-GLEN COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT BOULDER
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT DENVER
UNIVERSITY OF DENVER
UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT
CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT MANOA
UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
HARVARD UNIVERSITY - LAW SCHOOL
UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS-AMHERST
FROSTBURG STATE UNIVERSITY
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN-ANN ARBOR
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL
MINOT STATE UNIVERSITY
CUNY HUNTER COLLEGE
HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES
SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE
SUNY AT BINGHAMTON
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY
CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY
FRANKLIN AND MARSHALL COLLEGE
PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY
SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS-PAN AMERICAN
COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-WHITEWATER
WEST VIRGINIA SCHOOL OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE
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Read the original story: Department of Education releases list of schools under Title IX investigation