UW News

June 15, 2015

UW notified of Office for Civil Rights inquiry

UW News

The University of Washington has received notice from the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) that a complaint has been filed by a student alleging discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for failing to provide the student with a prompt and equitable grievance process after the student reported an incident of sexual violence. Filing a complaint under Title IX triggers an inquiry from OCR, which has requested information from the University. As indicated in the notice, “OCR’s initiation of this inquiry does not reflect an opinion by OCR regarding the merits of the allegations or the university’s compliance status with respect to federal civil rights laws.” The University will cooperate fully with OCR as it reviews this matter.

In May 2014, the Department of Education published a list of 55 colleges and universities it was reviewing for discrimination relating to sexual assault under Title IX. That list has now grown to over 100, with the UW being the latest to be added.

In April 2013, reflecting the University’s collective “resolve to end the chronic and abhorrent problem of sexual assault on college campuses,” former President Michael K. Young appointed a Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. The Task Force was directed to “review our current policies and practices, explore best practices from other institutions, develop new practices to fill any gaps, and propose a plan for their implementation.”  Its report may be found here.

The University has implemented many of the Task Force’s recommendations, including hiring a Title IX investigator and a Training and Education Coordinator; creating a sexual assault website; surveying students to examine the prevalence of sexual assault on campus; and providing additional prevention, response and bystander intervention training.

“As demonstrated by the work of the Task Force and other steps that have been taken over the past two years in expanding programs to prevent incidents of sexual assault and adjudicate them fairly, the University takes this matter very seriously,” said Interim President Ana Mari Cauce. “Sexual harassment and assault are intolerable and need to be prevented. The University will continue its efforts to improve its processes, to educate and inform students, faculty, and staff about sexual harassment and assault in an effort to reduce its occurrence, and to hold persons accountable when it does happen.”


Contact: Victor Balta; 206-543-2580; balta@uw.edu