U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) this week sent a letter encouraging Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to continue his Office of Civil Rights’ efforts to enforce Title IX and the Jeanne Clery Act and to bring transparency to its efforts to combat campus sexual assault. Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment, rape and sexual assault. A college or university that receives federal funds may be held legally responsible and in violation of Title IX when it knows about and ignores sexual harassment or assault in its programs or activities. You can learn more about how Title IX applies to sexual assault on college campuses here.
The Senators wrote, “We are writing in support of your continuing efforts to enforce Title IX and the Jeanne Clery Act (Clery Act) and to ask that you provide additional information about the actions your office is taking to ensure schools receiving federal financial assistance take the necessary steps to prevent sexual assault on their campuses, and to respond promptly and effectively when an assault is reported.”
The Senators also asked Duncan and the OCR to provide information on the number of complaints the agency has handled; the number of investigations it has pursued; the average time it takes to conduct investigations; the types of penalties imposed; and the procedures it has in place to help protect college students from sexual assault.
When the OCR enforces Title IX, we are able to move closer to equality for all students and student-athletes. Every year, the OCR receives more complaints than it is able to investigate; it’s becoming more and more visible just how far-reaching and impactful the enforcement of Title IX can be.