Department of Ed: UVA Mishandled Sexual Violence Complaints

The Department of Education found that the University of Virginia mishandled complaints of sexual violence, according to a news release from the Department on Monday.

UVA was at the center of an alleged gang rape described as taking place on its Charlottesville campus in an article that appeared in The Rolling Stone.

But, details of the report — including the description of how and where the rape happened — were soon questioned, as were the reporter’s fact-checking techniques, and the magazine publicly stated its mistrust of the woman who shared the gang rape story.

The article was retracted, an administrator from the university voiced her complaints to the magazine and filed a $7.5 million defamation lawsuit, and the managing editor resigned from the publication.

Even before the scandal, however, UVA was one of more than 100 institutions that were under investigation by the DOE to determine whether the campuses were in compliance with federal law.

The investigations were part of the Obama administration’s mission to reduce sexual violence on college campuses. A national awareness campaign, called “It’s On Us,” was also launched to bring awareness to the issue.

The DOE’s investigation found that the university had a “mixed record” of responding to reports of sexual assault and violence during the years it examined which were from academic years 2009-09 through 2011-12, according to the release.

The DOE found that the university did not act properly under Title IX and failed “to promptly and equitably respond to certain complaints of sexual violence, including in instances in which the university did not promptly investigate information in cases that involved fraternities.”

The DOE also cited a “hostile environment for the affected students” at the university, according to the release.

The Department of Education and the university also released a joint agreement Monday, in light of the investigation’s findings, to address and prevent sexual assault on UVA’s campus.

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