UHM among 55 colleges facing investigation over Title IX sexual abuse

University of Hawaii at Manoa
University of Hawaii at Manoa

The U.S. Dept. of Education has released the names of 55 colleges and universities currently facing a Title IX sexual abuse investigation. The list includes the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The release came two days after a White House task force promised greater government transparency on sexual assault in higher education. The department says it will keep an updated list of schools facing such an investigation and make it available upon request.

“We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue,” Catherine E. Lhamon, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a statement.

Lhamon said a school’s appearance on the list does not mean that it has violated the law but that an investigation is ongoing.

The University of Hawaii at Manoa released the following statement Thursday:

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has released a list of (55) schools, including the University of Hawaii at Manoa, that are currently being audited for compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

The list does not differentiate between the schools that—like UH Manoa—have been selected for proactive compliance reviews, versus those schools that are under audit based on a complaint.

OCR investigators have been on the UH Manoa campus this week meeting with a variety of groups and individuals, including students, faculty, staff, administrators and regents.

Investigative team members stated to UH Manoa executives toward the end of their visit that it was important to keep in mind that this audit was not triggered by a complaint, and that it was not based on an individual incident.

Rather, this audit was the result of a selection process that the Department uses nationally to evaluate how colleges and universities across the country are responding to Title IX requirements regarding sexual harassment and sexual violence.

UH Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple, who met with the investigative team, said, “The audit is a productive opportunity to see how else we can enhance student safety, above and beyond what we’re doing already. We anticipate a forward-thinking negotiated resolution with the Office of Civil Rights that will enhance the safety of our UH Manoa campus.”

Board of Regents Chair John Holzman, who along with the entire board was briefed on new requirements since 2013 relating to the university’s Title IX obligations, said, “Each and every campus within the UH system must be a safe and secure learning environment and we are making significant progress toward that goal. The fact that the author of Title IX is the late Hawaii Congresswoman Patsy Mink invokes a special responsibility on our part as Hawaii’s public university to be fully and completely compliant.”

University of Hawaii Interim President David Lassner added, “All of our campuses are working to comply with the new requirements, and more importantly, to ensure safe environments for all our students, faculty and staff. Our chancellors have been briefed on the new requirements and we have a new system-wide Steering Committee to share and collaborate on strategies, approaches, practices and procedures. This audit of UH Manoa will help inform all our campuses of the additional steps we need to take, and our new budget process directs our chancellors to identify the additional resource investments needed to ensure safety on their campuses.”

The schools range from big public universities like Ohio State University, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Arizona State University to private schools like Knox College in Illinois, Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and Catholic University of America in the District of Columbia. Ivy League schools like Harvard, Princeton and Dartmouth are also on the list.

Title IX prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds and regulates how they handle accusations of sexual violence.

Related Story: Is UH Manoa doing enough to track, deter sex crimes on campus?

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