Two major state universities in Michigan are currently under investigation by the Department of Education for alleged non-compliance with the Clery Act and also Title IX, according to a recent article from Campus Safety Magazine. The complaint states that both the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University failed to appropriately handle sexual abuse cases.
The complaints lodged against UM/MSU are very similiar to issues we raised in our recent article, ASU misrepresents its crime statistics, violates Clery Act (Part two). Like UM/MSU, ASU failed appropriately handle several forcible sexual offenses. ASU failed to report a sexual assault statistic in its 2013 Clery report, and in 2011, ASUPD failed to report at least seven sexual forcible sexual offenses.
We have previously discussed the requirements ASU must follow under the Clery Act (due to their status as a university which accepts federal financial aid), but we have yet to mention how ASU may also be in violation of Title IX. Title IX is a law passed in 1972 which requires gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program that receives federal funding. It is most commonly thought of in reference to college athletic programs, but it has a wide range of applicability, including sexual harassment and sexual violence.
According to an article on Title IX from Campus Safety Magazine:
- Sexual violence is viewed under the law as an extreme form of hostile environment/sexual harassment and must be addressed. When an institution “knows or reasonably should know” about a hostile environment, they are required “to take immediate action to eliminate the harassment, prevent its recurrence and address its effects.” Institutions must adopt and publicize policies as well as designate at least one Title IX coordinator to respond to their obligations under the law.
In 2011, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights began an initiative to require greater compliance for schools to adhere to Title IX, which included sending a letter to applicable institutions outlining the requirements. Under the requirements, ASU’s Title IX coordinator is required to communicate regularly with the school’s law enforcement unit investigating cases (ASUPD) and provide them with information regarding Title IX’s requirements. How can ASUPD refer cases to the Title IX coordinator when the department reclassifies or omits sexual offense cases from its Clery report? In addition to this, ASU’s Title IX coordinator has been accused of failing to investigate claims of sexual harassment, making the purpose of having a Title IX coordinator effectively useless.
By failing to comply with Title IX, ASU is at risk of losing its federal funding, and some cases may also be referred to the Department of Justice for litigation (this is in additional to the financial penalties the university may suffer from failing to comply with the Clery Act requirements). The student group Sun Devils Against Sexual Assault is currently in the process of filing a complaint with the Department of Education over ASU’s non-compliance with Title IX (which will hopefully incorporate ASUPD’s non-compliance with its Clery Act reporting.