Federal authorities have added Oglethorpe University to a list of 141 schools under investigation for their handling of sexual assault or harassment reports.
The Oglethorpe case involves a report of “sexual harassment/sexual violence,” according to the U.S. Department of Education, which is conducting the investigation. The department and the university declined to comment on the details or date of the case, though it appears not to be recent.
“Oglethorpe is cooperating fully with [the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights] and has provided all of the information that it has requested in a timely manner,” said Oglethorpe spokeswoman Renee Vary Keele in an email. “The University also submitted a detailed and thorough response to the allegations.”
Last year, the Department of Education began a large-scale review of sexual assault and harassment complaints at post-secondary schools in response to a series of controversies over the way some large colleges handled such reports. The review is focused on whether the schools’ policies and practices comply with Title IX, a section of federal law that bans gender-based discrimination in federally funded schools.
The initial list of schools included one Georgia school, Emory University, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported at the time. Oglethorpe was added to the list in June of this year, according to the Department of Education.
The department provided a list of the pending Title IX investigations, which includes a total of 167 cases at 141 institutions. The Oglethorpe investigation involves “a single Title IX complaint relating to the handling of a case of alleged sexual misconduct,” according to Keele.
“The issue under investigation in that [Oglethorpe] case is sexual harassment/sexual violence,” said Department of Education spokesman Alberto Betancourt in an email. “However, because this is an ongoing investigation, [the Office for Civil Rights] cannot disclose any case-specific facts or details.”
“Oglethorpe takes all complaints of sexual misconduct very seriously, is dedicated to complying with Title IX, and is deeply committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of its students and the entire University community,” Keele said. “To protect the confidentiality of our students, the University will not discuss specific cases. However, the University stresses that it makes every effort to not only comply with the letter, but also the spirit of Title IX. Oglethorpe will continue to work diligently with the OCR to satisfy the requirements of the inquiry.”
In the wake of the department announcing its investigations, Georgia’s state university system launched a review of its sexual violence reporting practices, and Emory conducted its own survey about campus sexual assaults, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.