US Department of Justice interviews students on CWRU Title IX violations

Noah Henriques and Ritika Devarakonda, Staff Writer and Copy Editor

In July 2020, social media outlets erupted with accounts designed to give students an anonymous platform to report their experiences of sexual harassment on campus, and students at Case Western Reserve University quickly joined the conversation. The Instagram page @cwru.survivors documented the experiences of hundreds of students and alumni, many whose cases were mishandled or ignored by CWRU’s administration. As a result, there have been calls for the university to improve its handling of reports of sexual misconduct. 

However, to date, there have been no major reforms made to CWRU’s policies on handling such complaints.

The issue has become so severe that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has begun investigating CWRU’s administration to ensure they are following Title IX policies. Title IX is not specific to sexual violence and harassment—-it also prohibits all forms of sex-based discrimination, including the sex-based exclusion from participation or benefits of any educational program receiving federal funding.

From March 29 to April 1, an investigative team from the DOJ interviewed students about their trauma and lack of support from CWRU in handling their cases. Walk-in interviews during dedicated office hours were conducted in Adelbert Hall conference rooms, one-on-one with students and investigators. Though the opportunity to meet in person with the DOJ team ended on April 1, investigators encourage students to reach out and schedule a Zoom meeting or a phone call with them at a later date. The investigative team can be reached at or via phone at 1-866-434-0339. Any interviews conducted will not be recorded, and those who give testimonies will be kept confidential.

We spoke to an interviewee who hopes the DOJ will hold CWRU accountable for its lack of support for students in responding to Title IX offenses. The student, who wished to remain anonymous, told us, “With so many students far from their homes, [we] need a safe space where [we] feel like [we] are listened to and have support if something were to happen. Right now, a lot of students express [that] they don’t have that and [that] the environment they are living in is hurting them.” 

Student voices matter. Every student who has struggled to receive fair treatment from CWRU’s administration can reach out to the DOJ’s team, and all students who reach out can have a part in helping make CWRU a safer and more inclusive space. The interviewee, who is also involved in helping raise awareness about the investigation, told us that any incidents reported to the DOJ “[don’t] have to be sexual violence based; [Title IX] encompasses a lot, and I encourage everyone to take time and read over what it does. It’s a law to protect everyone!”