The Education Department on Thursday released a list of 55 colleges that are currently under investigation for acts of sexual violence, which is considered an unprecedented step by the White House.
The list was released just two days after the White House task force announced they would put forth more effort to deliver greater government transparency on the pending issue. Several Ivy League universities made the list, including Harvard University (the college and its law school), Dartmouth College, Princeton University, and other prestigious schools such as Amherst College, Emory University, Vanderbilt University, and the University of California, Berkeley.
“We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “I also want to make it clear that a college or university’s appearance on this list and being the subject of a Title IX investigation in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law.”
Title IX of the Education Amendments has been protecting people from gender-based discriminations in education programs and activities since 1972. This has made strides for females in not only balancing out the number of those holding bachelor's degrees but also in now becoming measurably higher than males. According to the National Center for Education and Statistics, 37 percent of females completed a bachelor's degree, compared to 30 percent of men.
The Title IX amendment has made strides for women, yet while attaining an education, one in four women will be the victim of a sexual assault. Many go unreported, and at least 80 percent of the attacks are by an acquaintance, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
According to a report from the Center for Public Integrity, many college victims simply receive a letter of apology from their rapists, which many experts say will not alleviate all of the damage that has been caused. Many attackers are not penalized for their crime and some become serial rapists. This nonchalant crime allowance leads to college’s graduating rapists, while victims drop out due to the mental and emotional damage.
"Under federal law, sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will or where a person is incapable of giving consent -- including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse and sexual coercion," the White House statement said.
Sarah Lawrence College is one of the schools under federal investigation and has compiled a list of statistics from New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, as do most colleges. According to the statistics, 48.8 percent of college women, who were victims of an attack that met the definition of rape, did not consider themselves raped.
In Thursday's announcement, the Department of Education said releasing its list "advances a key goal of President Obama's White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault to bring more transparency to the federal government's enforcement activities around this issue."
In addition to the White House fulfilling promises to open doors of communication, spread awareness, and provide transparency on these serious obstructions of education, the department also released new guidelines that outline the responsibilities federally funded schools need to adhere to in terms of sexual violence and discrimination. From the time a child is enrolled in kindergarten up until they graduate college, educational institutions must comply with Title IX, or else they face loss of funding and will be subject to action by the Justice Department.