The University of Washington is being investigated for allegedly failing to properly address an issue of sexual violence at the school.
The University of Washington has become the third public university in the state to be investigated for allegedly failing to properly address an issue of sexual violence at the school.
A student has alleged that the university failed to provide a “prompt and equitable grievance process after the student reported an incident of sexual violence,” according to a UW statement regarding the investigation, which is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. No further details were available.
An announcement of an investigation does not mean that a violation has been found, only that a potential violation has been reported.
Washington State University and Western Washington University are under similar investigations, as is the private Whitman College in Walla Walla. In all, about 100 colleges across the country are being investigated under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
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The UW appointed a task force on sexual-assault prevention in 2013, and has put a number of the task force’s recommendations in place. Whereas the UW used to have one investigator to handle complaints of sexual violence, it now has four, said Ellen Taylor, assistant vice-president of student life and director of the UW’s Counseling Center. And the orientation for incoming students this fall includes “a very robust education program” that covers sexual assault, suicide prevention and other wellness issues, she said
Taylor said raising awareness of sexual assaults and encouraging more students to report them is almost sure to cause an uptick in reports of the crimes. Over time, if the work is successful, the reports will go down, she said.
In a statement released Monday, Interim President Ana Mari Cauce said the university is taking the matter very seriously, and that the school will continue to improve its processes, educate and inform students about sexual assaults, “and to hold persons accountable when it does happen.”