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Oct 03, 2013 01:26 PM EDT

Government Shutdown: Pending Sexual Assault Cases At Major Universities Delayed


The government shutdown continues to affect colleges in the United States.

According to The Huffington Post, the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) won't be able to pursue any of its many pending sexual assault investigations on campuses such as Swarthmore, University of Colorado-Boulder, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Occidental College, and the University of Southern California until the shutdown is lifted.

The above campuses are under investigation for allegedly violating Title IX -- a federal law -- in the treatment of sexual assault cases on campus. Details from one of the most prominent complaints to reach the desk of the OCR can be found here.

Though more famous in sports, where it's leveled the playing field for female athletes, Title IX also plays a prominent role in protecting female students from "bullying and sexual harassment", according to the Title IX website.

"OCR investigations are not an excepted activity and have been suspended until the shutdown ends," U.S. Department of Education spokesman Cameron French told The Huffington Post. "Approximately 94 percent of department staff is on furlough as a result of the shutdown."

The focus of the OCR investigations, as per the Huffington Post, extends to complaints filed by college staff, students, and alumni claiming their institutions under reported sexual assault cases.

According to the Huffington Post, Filers, have not been notified of the delay. They've had to discover for themselves through automated messages from investigative contacts.  

Not only is the OCR's ability to investigate compromised, but it can't conduct follow up reviews for universities asked to reorganize campus polices regarding sexual assault, reported The Huffington Post. Yale was one such example, The HuffPost reported. Following an investigation in 2012, the OCR had intended to follow up sometime this week. Because of the shutdown, the organization is unable to do so. 

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