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Syracuse University under federal investigation for its handling of sexual assault

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The Title IX investigation was launched at Syracuse University on June 22, 2016.

Syracuse University is being investigated by the Department of Education for its handling of a sexual assault case after a former student filed a Title IX complaint with the department’s Office of Civil Rights.

The complaint alleges that the university failed to “respond promptly or equitably” to a report of sexual assault made on or about May 5, 2015, according to documents obtained by The Daily Orange through the Freedom of Information Act. Further details of the incident were not provided in the request because the investigation is ongoing.

The identity of the former student was also redacted in the documents provided to The Daily Orange.

The investigation was opened on June 22 after Chancellor Kent Syverud received a letter from the Department of Education notifying him about the complaint and following investigation.

The letter says the investigation will determine if students at SU are “subjected to a sexually hostile environment.” The letter also states the OCR is a “neutral fact-finder” and opening an investigation “in no way implies that OCR has made a determination with regard to its merit.”

Kevin Quinn, senior vice president for public affairs at SU, released this statement in response to the investigation:

“The University recently received a letter from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informing it that a former student has filed a Title IX-related complaint. The OCR, which is currently investigating more than 245 Title IX-related complaints at other institutions, made clear in its letter to SU that ‘opening an allegation for investigation does not mean that it has made a determination with regard to its merit.’ The University takes any Title IX-related complaint very seriously, as we expect everyone on our campus to be treated with dignity and respect. We will assist OCR with their inquiry and share with them the facts and set of actions the University undertook in regard to this case.”

Title IX was passed by Congress in 1972. The law prohibits any educational program or activity getting federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex. Under the statute, colleges and universities are legally required to respond to reports of sexual assault appropriately.

This is the first Title IX complaint filed against SU since the Department of Education released a letter clarifying and strengthening its guidelines on how schools deal with sexual assault in 2011. Stanford University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Princeton University each have five active Title IX investigations, the most out of any other college or university in the country, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Title IX database.

FOIA by Jon Mettus on Scribd

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