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CWRU, US Department of Justice to announce Title IX reforms

Ongoing sex discrimination investigation comes to conclusion

On Tuesday, Aug. 22, the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ)—in an agreement with Case Western Reserve University—announced the resolution of the federal Title IX investigation into CWRU’s student-on-student and employee-on-student sexual harassment, according to an announcement from the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs.

Conducted with the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio, the investigation centralized students’ complaints and “hundreds of social media reports” alleging sexual harassment on campus and a “hostile” Greek life environment. Furthermore, CWRU employees neglected to report sexual harassment claims to the Office of Equity, according to the announcement. 

This investigation began in February 2021 in response to reports of assault between the academic years of 2017-2018 and 2020-2021. During the span of the investigation, 214 incident files and over 40,000 pages of documents were reviewed. Additionally, the university spoke with administrators, current students and alumni, conducting more than 40 interviews, according to a DOJ letter addressed to CWRU President Eric Kaler. 

“When sex discrimination rears its head, universities must respond appropriately to stop the misconduct and provide support so that the student can safely participate in school activities and complete their educational pursuits. This agreement would not have been possible without the many current and former student survivors who came forward and courageously shared their stories,” said Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, in the announcement. “We hope this agreement sends a message to the higher education community about the actions that must be taken to ensure that campuses are safe for all students.”

According to the resolution, CWRU has “made efforts to promote a culture of respect on campus” by joining the Culture of Respect Collective and bringing on staff and a faculty advisor to a #MeToo CWRU student group. Going forward, under this agreement, CWRU will undertake extensive reforms for students to engage in campus life free from sex discrimination—including assault—and retaliation for filing reports of sex discrimination. Specifically, CWRU will be removing the Office of Equity from the purview of the Office of the General Counsel and will be allocating funding to Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, the Greek Life Office and the University Health and Counseling Services to provide resources for supporting survivors of sex discrimination. 

More transparency to community members about the reporting of sexual harassment and sex discrimination will be communicated in the form of informational materials and forthcoming policies and announcements. CWRU will also be implementing increased training and revised policies and procedures to address the claims made and to help ensure Title IX is consistently met across university divisions. Within 15 days of finalizing new policies, procedures and protocols, CWRU will publish a notice of the revisions on the university and Title IX website, as well as notify students and employees via email. 

In addition to the reforms, the university will conduct a campus-wide survey of students to gauge whether CWRU is effectively protecting its students from sex discrimination. The survey will take place in the spring semester for the duration of the agreement and will be overseen by Rachel Lutner, CWRU’s Title IX coordinator.

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About the Contributor
Téa Tamburo, News Editor
Téa Tamburo is a member of the Class of 2027, and she is studying finance and economics. Prior to joining The Observer, Téa served as an editor-in-chief of her high school’s nationally ranked paper, The U-High Midway, where she was named to the 2022 Illinois All-State Journalism Team. In her spare time, she enjoys fashion styling and drinking boba and coffee.

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