The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced on November 5th that Princeton has been found guilty of a Title IX violation, prompting the university to review all of its sexual assault cases from the past three years. The OCR’s verdict stated that Princeton had not “promptly and equitably responded” to complaints of sexual violence, including harassment and assault. Along with the guilty verdict, the OCR announced a resolution for an agreement with Princeton to ensure further compliance with Title IX. Princeton’s policies and procedures in place to respond to cases of sexual assault at the time of the investigation were also not compliant with Title IX’s requirements. Much like Columbia’s Title IX complaint filed in April, OCR’s investigation was a response to complaints filed on behalf of students.
Out of the 11 cases that Princeton will review, seven were concluded with a verdict of responsibility of sexual assault; punishments ranged from disciplinary probation to one instance of expulsion. In the reexamining of these cases, however, new panels will be formed, with different administrators judging the cases from those who determined the cases’ original outcomes in 2011-2014. A full list of Princeton’s agreements with the OCR can be found on the Department of Education’s website. A statement from Princeton’s administration named an ambitious completion date of February 2015, by which time the university hopes to have resolved its reexaminations of cases and determined whether any further action needs to be taken.
OCR’s verdict was only released last week – but Princeton has been preparing for the Department of Education’s verdict well in advance. The school restructured its sexual assault policies over the summer for the Fall 2014 semester; a critical change of which is that the university will alter its standard of proof in sexual assault cases from “clear and persuasive” to “preponderance of evidence.” A full list of Princeton’s agreements with the OCR can be found on the Department of Education’s website.
This announcement also comes in the very recent wake of Columbia’s “National Carry That Weight Rally” against sexual assault, organized by No Red Tape and inspired by Emma Sulkowicz’s highly publicized senior thesis performance, “Carry That Weight.” And while Columbia’s own Title IX complaint has yet to be taken on by the OCR, Harvard, Dartmouth, and Brown, are on the list of 68 schools with pending Title IX investigations. Yale University received a Title IX complaint in 2011, making Cornell and UPenn the only two Ivies without a Title IX complaint, investigation, or violation.