Five local colleges are among 55 nationwide being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education for possible mishandling of sexual assault and harassment cases.
Temple University, Pennsylvania State University, Swarthmore, Princeton and Franklin & Marshall College are on the list released by the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday.
The list represents the first "comprehensive look at which campuses are under review" by the department's office of civil rights for possible violations of the Title IX law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. A spate of complaints have emerged on college campuses around the country in recent years as more women are speaking out about sex assault.
"We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights," Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said in a statement. "We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue. I also want to make it clear that a college or university's appearance on this list and being the subject of a Title IX investigation in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law."
The department declined to release details about the investigations other than when they began. The list comes in the same week that the White House released its initial report on improving the handling of sexual assault on colleges campuses. President Obamaa commissioned a task force earlier this year.
The investigations include both those that were spurred by complaints and through regular reviews by the department. The list will be updated regularly and available upon request, the department said.
Concerns at Swarthmore College emerged last spring, and the college in response hired an outside consultant for an evaluation. Students subsequently filed two complaints alleging that the college violated both Title IX and the Clery Act, which requires colleges to report crime on campus.
In response to a report from its consultant, Swarthmore brought on additional staff, provided training for employees and adopted an interim policy on the handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints.
Earlier this year, the department notified Penn State that it was starting a review there, citing a spike in cases following the 2011 indictment of former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on child sex-abuse charges.
"Our initial review of Penn State's sexual harassment policy, compounded by a dramatic increase in the number of forcible sex offenses occurring on campus as reported by the university itself, raised legal concerns that compelled us to investigate," Lhamon said at the time, according to published reports.
It's not clear what prompted the investigation at Temple. Ray Betzner, Temple spokesman confirmed the investigation.
"Temple has fully cooperated with the Office of Civil Rights and looks forward to a resolution of the matter," he said.
Princeton confirmed that the investigation targeting its campus began in 2010.
The university "will continue to cooperate" with the office conducting the probe, spokesman Martin Mbugua said.
An investigation was opened at Franklin & Marshall following a complaint in March, a university spokeswoman said.
"We are cooperating fully with this neutral fact-finding process," said Cass Cliatt, the spokeswoman.
The full list of colleges under investigation nationwide include:
AZ ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
CA BUTTE-GLEN COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT
CA OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE
CA UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY
CA UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
CO REGIS UNIVERSITY
CO UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT BOULDER
CO UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT DENVER
CO UNIVERSITY OF DENVER
CT UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT
DC CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA
FL FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
GA EMORY UNIVERSITY
H UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT MANOA
ID UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO
IL KNOX COLLEGE
IL UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
IN INDIANA UNIVERSITY-BLOOMINGTON
IN VINCENNES UNIVERSITY
MA AMHERST COLLEGE
MA BOSTON UNIVERSITY
MA EMERSON COLLEGE
MA HARVARD COLLEGE
MA HARVARD UNIVERSITY - LAW SCHOOL
MA UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS-AMHERST
MD FROSTBURG STATE UNIVERSITY
MI MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
MI UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN-ANN ARBOR
NC GUILFORD COLLEGE
NC UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL
ND MINOT STATE UNIVERSITY
NH DARTMOUTH COLLEGE
NJ PRINCETON UNIVERSITY
NY CUNY HUNTER COLLEGE
NY HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES
NY SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE
NY SUNY AT BINGHAMTON
OH DENISON UNIVERSITY
OH OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
OH WITTENBERG UNIVERSITY
OK OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY
PA CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY
PA FRANKLIN AND MARSHALL COLLEGE
PA PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY
PA SWARTHMORE COLLEGE
PA TEMPLE UNIVERSITY
TN VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY
TX SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY
TX THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS-PAN AMERICAN
VA COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY
VA UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
WA WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY
WI UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-WHITEWATER
WV BETHANY COLLEGE