Oct 16, 2014 02:09 PM EDT
Education Department Confirms Sexual Assault Investigations Ongoing at 85 U.S. Schools
The U.S. Education Department (ED) is now investigating 85 colleges and universities in the nation for allegedly mishandling cases of campus sexual assault.
According to the Huffington Post, the ED confirmed the updated figure Wednesday, bringing the total investigations in 2014 up to 55. Since Sept. 30, the ED has opened investigation at the following institutions: Grand Valley State University, Marlboro College, Drake University, Valparaiso University, the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Federally funded schools - a vast majority in the U.S. - are legally obligated to abide by the gender equity law Title IX and the campus crime transparency Clery Act. Schools found to be in violation of either could face fines in the tens of thousands of dollars per violation.
The ED's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) began publicly disclosing its official list of schools under investigation in May to hold the institutions accountable. At that point, the OCR was conducting 55 investigations in all.
The investigations come from complaints from students who bring forth allegations that administrators mishandle their individual cases. In some cases, multiple students come together to join their complaints into one. For example, BuzzFeed reported in April on 22 students filing a federal complaint against Columbia University.
Only identifying herself as "Regina," one CalArts student told the HP the school went no further than to suspend the student they found responsible of sexually assaulting her for one year.
Regina also told Al Jazeera American that CalArts investigators asked her about the length of her dress, her drinking habits and whether or not she had an orgasm. SurvJustice, a survivor advocate nonprofit, said the school did not try to stop Regina's attacker from harassing her after she filed her report.
"I lost my sense of identity," Regina told AJA. "I don't feel comfortable with my body. I don't feel safe in my school."
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