Twelve Title IX complaints against the University were reviewed and closed by the Department of Education'sOffice of Civil Rights between Dec. 30, 2009 and June 6, 2014, according to newly disclosed data.
The number of cases reported against the University has drastically increased in the last few years. The data dates back to 2002, but no cases were reported during this initial six-year period, whereas all twelve cases were reported in the past five years.
The data was obtained by The Harvard Crimson from the Department of Education through a public records request.
After being found in violation of Title IX, the University recently entered into a resolution agreement with the Office for Civil Rights, the office within the Department of Education in charge of reviewing Title IX complaints.
The University has agreed to reexamine all cases brought before its internal Faculty Student Committee on Discipline in the past three academic years, although the outcomes of the cases will not be altered.
Overall, 83 complaints have been filed against Ivy League schools in the past 12 years, averaging eight complaints per school, according to Yale Daily News.
Brown and Dartmouth had the fewest complaints, receiving two and four respectively. Harvard and Columbia tied for the most, each receiving 16 complaints.
None of the University’s Title IX complaints since 2002 have resulted in policy changes.
Of the University’s two cases in 2014, the earlier case closed due to the allegation’s lack of sufficient detail to infer discrimination and the most recent one closed because the allegation failed to state a violation, according to the Crimson.
Valerie Bonnette, a Title IX private consultant for universities’ athletic programs and a former OCR employee, explained that the OCR is obligated to investigate every complaint.
Bonnette said that OCR conducts compliance reviews of universities, where a complaint is not necessary to launch the review.
The OCR may believe there is reason for concern due to online discussions, newspaper articles or other outlets, she said, adding thatunfamiliarity with the campus and their programs might also be cause for a compliance review.
However, Bonnette noted that a problem inthe relationship between the OCR and the universities accountable to them is the worry about investigation. She said the OCR has a technical assessment system where they can answer questions from universities, but not all schools participate.
“I think a lot of schools are reluctant to call them, because if OCR has the idea that they’re not complying, OCR might launch an investigation into the schools,” Bonnette said.
Michele Minter, the University's vice provost for institutional equity and diversity and Title IX coordinator, said the OCR had issued additional guidance in April, which the University had been carefully looking at. She said keeping in compliance with OCR’s guidelines has always been very important to the University, even before OCR launched a full investigation.
Minter said the University’s new policy, created in conjunction with the OCR after the investigation, was just put in place this September.
The new faculty advisory committee was charged with monitoring how the disciplinary process was working over time. If there are concerns or questions, there could be refinements or adjustments, but so far there haven’t been any decisions about further policy changes.
When asked how the University's new policy would affect campus, Minter said she hoped the heightened awareness would make students feel more comfortable coming forward on campus, but also that the new disciplinary process would not appear different.
She said that the disciplinary process was designed to be as fair and consistent as past outcomes have been.
“I hope it will be a positive thing,”Minter said. “I hope on an educational and awareness front that the new policy will help to make the campus a more safe and supportive place.”