The United States Department of Education announced last week that it has completed its investigation into The Ohio State University’s compliance with anti-sex discrimination law Title IX, and that Ohio State has agreed to take steps to strengthen its policies on sexual assault and harassment.
“This agreement and The Ohio State University’s recent response to the culture within the marching band, set clear and vitally important expectations for a community-wide culture of prevention, support, and safety,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, the Assistant Education Secretary for Civil Rights in a statement. “I applaud Ohio State for taking strong leadership now to eradicate a culture of silence related to sexual harassment.”
Ohio State University (OSU) fired band director Jonathan Waters after finding that Waters had mishandled a 2013 allegation of sexual harassment in the band. The OSU internal investigation also found a “sexualized” culture within the band. A student in the marching band was recently expelled for sexually assaulting another band member.
The Title IX investigation, however, did not stem from a federal complaint, but was part of a proactive compliance review process.
To improve its compliance with Title IX, OSU will review its handling of past sexual harassment and violence reports, expand training for the campus community, and ensure students and staff are aware of their rights under Title IX. More specifically, it will develop online training modules for students to learn about bystander intervention, improve its documentation of sexual violence investigations, establish a Title IX website, and create a campus sexual violence focus group.
Seventy-nine other college and universities are currently under federal investigation for their handling of reports of sexual violence. In response, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault was formed; its first report was filed in April of this year. The report states that one in five women is sexually assaulted during their time in college and calls for steps to be taken to prevent sexual assault: conducting surveys to assess the problem, engaging men in the fight against sexual violence, responding effectively when a student says they were assaulted, and making enforcement efforts more transparent.
Media Resources: The Washington Post 9/14/14; United States Department of Education 9/11/14; Feminist Majority Foundation; Feminist Newswire 7/23/14; The Columbus Dispatch 7/29/14