The US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires colleges to eliminate gender-based discrimination.
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment. One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. Later, when she went to campus police after he harassed her in a dining hall on campus, an officer told her, “Women need to stop spreading their legs like peanut butter or rape is going to keep happening until the cows come home.”
The investigation could take up to six months. If the civil rights complaint is upheld, the university could face a fine, sanctions such as the loss of federal funds, or harsher punishments.
Universities across the US have come under fire lately for mishandling sexual assault cases, more recently Occidental College. While some, like the University of Maryland, are working towards making campuses safer spaces for women, others are facing or have faced criticism and similar investigations for mishandling cases.
Media Resources: Connecticut Post 12/9/13; ThinkProgress 12/10/13; Feminist Newswire DATES