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55 colleges under review for mishandling sexual assault and harassment

Official: "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. We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue."

By JC Sevcik

WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) -- The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights released for the first time Thursday a comprehensive list of all colleges and universities currently under review for mishandling sexual assault and harassment.

The higher education institutions are being investigated under Title IX, the gender equity law which prohibits discrimination at schools that receive federal funding and guarantees women equal access to sports. Survivors and activists have increasingly been citing Title IX in instances where schools have failed to protect victims of sexual assault or harassment.

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In response to increasing pressure from lawmakers, activists, and advocacy groups, the DOE formed the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The task force released its first report this week, titled “Not Alone,” aimed at addressing the issue, as well as a fact sheet that summarizes the 20-page document.

The report opens: “One in five women is sexually assaulted while in college.  Most often, it happens her freshman or sophomore year.  In the great majority of cases, it’s by someone she knows -- and also most often, she does not report what happened. And though fewer, men, too, are victimized.”

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The DOE has been criticized for shielding schools by not releasing information about investigations. The list of higher education institutions currently under Title IX investigation released by the OCR is in keeping with the goal of transparency established by the task force.

"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," Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said in a statement. "We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue. I also want to make it clear that a college or university's 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."

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