Ed official: Some campuses hostile to victims

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Associated Press

Posted on June 26, 2014 at 9:02 AM

Updated Thursday, Jun 26 at 1:04 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some colleges and universities are failing students by inadequately responding to campus sexual assault, a senior Education Department official testified Thursday.

"For those schools, my office and this administration have made it clear that the time for delay is over," Catherine Lhamon, the department's assistant secretary for civil rights, said in prepared testimony to the Senate committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Lhamon said that since the beginning of President Barack Obama's term in 2009, her office has investigated more than 100 such cases. Through them, she said, the office is aware that some schools are doing things such as retaliating against students for filing sexual assault complaints, delaying investigations and allowing perpetrators to remain in school even after they are found responsible.

"As effective as we have been over the years, the problem of sexual violence has nonetheless persisted across too many of our students' experiences in institutions of higher education," Lhamon said.

Lhamon said she's pleased, however, that many colleges and universities are "stepping up to the challenge of addressing the problem of sexual assault."

The Education Department announced a proposed rule last week that would expand campus crime reporting requirements by requiring colleges and universities to compile statistics on stalking, dating violence and domestic violence. It also would spell out that both the victim and the accused perpetrator have the right to an adviser of their choice at campus disciplinary proceedings in these cases.

Earlier this year, a White House task force on sexual assault recommended actions that colleges and universities should take, including ensuring the availability of confidential victims' advocates and conducting surveys to better gauge the frequency of sexual assault on their campuses. The department also took the unprecedented step of releasing the names of 55 schools facing federal investigation under Title IX for the way they handle sexual abuse allegations.

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Follow Kimberly Hefling on Twitter: http://twitter.com/khefling

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