Yale not alone in Title IX probe

A federal investigation into whether Yale violated Title IX has been in the media spotlight since it was first announced two weeks ago, but similar probes at Yale’s peer institutions have gone largely unnoticed.

At least four other universities and professional schools — including the University of Virginia (UVA), Duke University, Princeton University and Harvard Law School — are presently under investigation by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights because of Title IX complaints, DOE spokesperson Jim Bradshaw said. Legal experts interviewed explained that Yale’s case is not unique, given the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault incidents across universities.

“The improper application of Title IX [when colleges handle] sexual misconduct cases is a pervasive issue,” said S. Daniel Carter, director of public policy for Security on Campus, Inc., a non-profit organization focused on safety on college campuses.

Duke alone is now facing three open cases — two accusing the university of slow and inadequate action in response to grievances of sexual harassment, and a third accusing Duke of retaliating against a complainant who filed a prior complaint with the OCR. Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations at Duke, confirmed the Title IX investigations into his school, but deferred to the OCR for additional details.

The OCR inquiries at Yale and the other four schools all stem from alleged violations of Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination at educational institutions that receive federal funding. The OCR generally does not release details of investigations, Bradshaw said. Kristen Galles, a Virginia-based Title IX lawyer who has been litigating Title IX cases since 1993, said investigations usually go public only when the complainants opt to discuss their cases with the media.

“[An investigation] at Yale might wake up a lot of schools to do something,” Galles said, explaining that OCR commonly “negotiates” with schools to find ways to comply with Title IX throughout the investigation.

But complainant Hannah Zeavin ’12 said that she and the other 15 Yale students and alumni who filed the Title IX complaint against the University only did so to help change the University’s handling of sexual misconduct cases. The complainants did not intend to draw the national media to campus when they announced the OCR probe on Mar. 31, she said. The DOE’s announcement of clearer Title IX guidelines just days after that drew more attention to Yale’s situation, Zeavin added.

According to the OCR, Yale was not the only school facing federal investigation when the DOE clarified Title IX last week. The OCR is also investigating allegations that Harvard Law School’s grievance procedures do not provide prompt and equitable resolution of sexual misconduct charges, Bradshaw said.

Carol Wood, associate vice president for public affairs at UVA, said an anonymous former student filed a complaint against UVA almost a year ago. Bradshaw said that the complainant alleged that the university used the wrong standard of proof in order to find an accused person guilty of sexual misconduct. The correct standard of proof is about 51 percent certainty, or a “preponderance of the evidence,” according to the Title IX advisory issued by OCR last week.

The Princeton case alleges the school discriminated against a female student on the basis of her sex, Bradshaw said.

Administrators at Harvard Law School declined to give details about the investigations. Princeton administrators declined to comment.

Wendy Murphy, an adjunct professor at New England Law in Boston, said she helped to file grievances against Harvard Law and UVA with the OCR. Murphy said the OCR is examining whether Harvard has tried “run out the clock” by delaying the law school’s investigations of sexual misconduct complaints. Robb London, assistant dean for communications at Harvard Law, said only that the school knows of Murphy’s contact with OCR.

“We are aware that Wendy Murphy, who is neither a student nor faculty member at Harvard, has been in touch with OCR,” he wrote in an email to the News on Wednesday. London deferred to OCR for further comment.

Associate University General Counsel Susan Sawyer told the News on Tuesday that the University will alter its sexual misconduct policies following the DOE’s clarification of its Title IX regulations.

Comments

  • yale05wfp

    This headline rubs wrong, and the statement within, “given the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault incidents across universities.” does not make the experience of rape any more palatable. Again, my 19 yr old daughter, studying abroad was raped by an American 60 yr old professor. If I showed you the gorgeous pictures of this beautiful accomplished , now academic dean of a High School, woman, you would not see a difference at all before and after this horrific event. However, EVERYTHING is VERY DIFFERENT now for her, and consequently for me and our family. Imagine a 19 yr old SCREAMING at her mother upon arrival home because the anger cannot be contained.

    Imagine a certificate of ‘abstinence’ and leadership from high school now a shred of dashed hope.

    Imagine me having to announce this news to her sister, and imagine me having to teach classes the day i heard this news and therafter. Just try and imagine how does a young woman go forward and make sense of her abstinent lifestyle and, this her 3rd study abroad scholarship?????

    any answers?–it DOES NOT matter that yale is in good company w others being investigated. it MATTERS THAT YOU STOP DEFENDING UNWANTED ADVANCES, UNINVITED GESTURES, AND teach young men, and the older ones too , that the contributions of women deserve EVERY Greatest Respect. Think–There is No turning back on a damaged life by these ruthless acts, even when rape is not the outcome. STOP IT!!!! youre hurting us. My daughter, after given a Graduate School scholarship, was able to then continue to earn her two masters and excel in career. She teaches young people that they can “Overcome Any Obstacle” and achieve. However, this is not the same outcome as some rape victims who die by their perpetrators, or whose lives are so scarred that they suffer a stifling paralysis for the rest of their days.

    I really dont like the picture hanging in my daughters house –of a young woman in stark gray, huddled alone under a black and white tree, near fetal position. Thats part of her expression of this horrific act! Think and stop defending to save face. Youll then be helping our society with the powers and influence you have for good. Thank you, mom of Rapee.

  • Branford73

    In all the posts on this topic I have not seen anyone “defending unwanted advances, uninvited gestures.” The headline and the article are unremarkable and do not seem in any way “rape apologies”.
    I am sorry your daughter and you went through your horrible experience. But other than your alum connection what happened to her in Greece has little apparent relationship to what’s happening at Yale or what people are writing in the YDN website. It’s hardly reasonable or productive to shout “STOP IT” in the face of reasonable discussion over the boundaries of sexual harassment and freedom of speech. Those issues and the appropriate university investigation procedures SHOULD be discussed. If it’s upsetting to you, stop logging on and reading it.

  • Tully

    “Complainant Hannah Zeavin ’12 said that she and the other 15 Yale students and alumni who filed the Title IX complaint against the University only did so to help change the University’s handling of sexual misconduct cases. The complainants did not intend to draw the national media to campus when they announced the OCR probe on Mar. 31, she said. The DOE’s announcement of clearer Title IX guidelines just days after that drew more attention to Yale’s situation, Zeavin added.”

    On April 1, Zeavin spoke to a ABC national news radio (http://www.klpw.com/content/yale-under-fire-hostile-sexual-environment-0); the next day, she appeared in The Daily Beast (http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-04-02/title-ix-complaint-against-yale-women-allege-a-culture-of-silence-on-campus/full/full/newsmaker/world-news). I find it laughable and a bit shameful that this complainant is trying to duck responsibility for the very negative media attention she has brought upon Yale.

  • eli1

    Pretty obvious these girls wanted attention the entire time. We all know that was the major basis of their suite. Anything that comes out of their mouth to the media is a bold face lie. They have no problem attacking all men in general but I can guarantee you if anyone tried to look they could find some serious skeletons in these girls’ closets.

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