PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University was included in a list of universities released this morning by the U.S. Department of Education that are under investigation for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.
In January 2013, WSU received notice from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights that OCR had received a complaint alleging the university failed to adequately respond to allegations of sexual harassment, including incidents of sexual assault.
Shortly after receiving the notice from OCR, WSU contacted OCR and requested to participate in OCR’s “voluntary resolution” process, which means WSU would work with OCR to make improvements in its policies and practices.
Since that time, WSU has been cooperating with OCR to provide information. In addition, in February 2014, OCR representatives came to the WSU Pullman campus for a site visit, which involved sessions with student focus groups, interviews with employees and open sessions for students to meet with OCR representatives.
There has been no finding of wrongdoing on the part of WSU. We are still waiting to hear from OCR regarding participation in the voluntary resolution process.
WSU takes its Title IX obligations seriously and does not tolerate any form of sexual harassment, sexual assault or other sexual misconduct. Complaints are investigated promptly and appropriate steps are taken to stop discriminatory behavior, prevent its recurrence and remedy its effects.
While we believe our complaint procedures, policies and practices fully comply with the law, we look forward to working with OCR to make any needed improvements to ensure that these matters are handled in accordance with OCR recommendations and best practices and in a manner that best protects our students.
Robert Strenge, WSU News, 509-335-3583, firstname.lastname@example.org