According to risk management consultants, universities are now spending millions defending themselves in sexual assault lawsuits involving both faculty and students.
Brett Sokolow, a sexual assault consultant who founded the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, claims that universities are paying, in many cases, seven figures to defend themselves in sexual misconduct cases.
Just this February, Jack Montague, the captain of Yale’s basketball team, was expelled from the university after a confidential school investigation concluded that he had non-consensual sex with a female student. Although Montague maintained that the woman consented, the university proceeded with the expulsion. His attorney contends that the decision to expel Montague was “unfairly determined, arbitrary, and excessive.”
In March, it was revealed that the dean of University of California, Berkeley’s Law School had sexually harassed his assistant, and he was forced to resign. The UC system faced intensive litigation after it was revealed that administrators had allowed the dean to remain in his position, even after they were aware of his sexual misconduct.
Because of these transgressions, universities are instituting programs to prepare for these incidents before they occur. Harvard recently hired their first Title IX officer, Mia Karvonides, who is responsible for assuring the university maintains their commitment to the Title IX regulations enacted in 1972 that ensures that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t occurring on campus.
In many cases, these programs have costed universities millions of dollars and require several full time staffers. Specifically, Columbia University employs 11 educators and 7 caseworkers to handle Title IX complaints. Sokolow claims that the salaries for each of these staffers can range between $50,000 and $150,000. Despite these costs, having these programs in place doesn’t always prevent universities from being subject to expensive lawsuits.