Department of Education targets sexual assault

Schools nationwide may have mishandled sexual assault cases.

The U.S. Department of Education recently released a list of more than 50 schools nationwide that are under Title IX investigation for possibly mishandling sexual assault or harassment complaints.

Ohio State University, Michigan State University, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Penn State University are among the list of schools currently under federal investigation for possible violations of Title IX.

Since 1972, Title IX has stipulated that educational programs receiving federal funding cannot exclude or discriminate on the basis of sex. Title IX also regulates how schools handle sexual violence, and recent cases bring up the question of whether colleges provide equal protection to men and women.

The University of Minnesota is not on the Department of Education’s list, nor is any other college or university in Minnesota. But this doesn’t mean that the University and other schools around the state are handling every sexual assault complaint with the utmost urgency or reporting accuracy. The University should take steps to avoid being subject to a Title IX investigation.

Administrative officials should review the University’s policies for reporting and dealing with sexual assault and harassment. The institution should also ensure that resources and support are never lacking for survivors. Ultimately, this could make it easier for survivors to actually report incidents of sexual violence.

Simply because the University isn’t on the list doesn’t give the school a free pass or a pat on the back for a job well done. Preventing instances of sexual violence at the University will require constant diligence and advocacy from students and administrators, and the Department of Education’s investigation serves as an important reminder that sexual assault can and does happen anywhere.