University of California Berkeley, Occidental College, and the University of Southern California are three California institutions among 55 colleges and universities that are being investigated by the federal government over their handling of sexual abuse complaints, according to NBC Bay Area.
The unprecedented move by the federal Department of Education to release the list comes on the heels of the Obama Administration’s attempt to urge greater transparency surrounding the issue of sexual assault–perhaps, critics suggest, in time to revive women’s interest in the midterm elections.
Under Title IX, gender discrimination is prohibited by schools that receive federal funding. The Education Department can withhold federal funding from a school that doesn’t comply with the law, but so far it has reportedly not used that power and instead has negotiated voluntary resolutions for violators.
There is “absolutely zero presumption” of guilt for the schools being investigated, according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who said there had been “lots of internal debate” about whether to release the list, NBC writes. Duncan placed emphasis on the decision as having much to do with doing the right thing and following “the moral compass” and said that while being on the list might feel difficult for schools, it pales in comparison to the difficulty and trauma borne by sexual assault victims on American college campuses, according to NBC.
In December 2013, Bloomberg News reported that men are also using Title IX to complain about unfair collegiate investigations that have resulted in unfair or unjust outcomes for male students accused of sexual violations.