Tufts and OCR Settle Title IX Disagreement

University president says Dept. of Ed made an example of Tufts to warn other campuses.

Tufts University and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) have settled a dispute the organizations had over the school’s handling of sexual assault and harassment complaints.

In April, OCR issued an announcement claiming Tufts had failed to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The school had entered into an agreement with OCR on April 17 but then revoked the agreement.

Tufts gave this reason as to why it revoked the agreement:

“At no time before we signed the April 17 Voluntary Resolution Agreement did OCR indicate that it found the University’s current policies out of compliance with Title IX.  Instead, OCR consistently affirmed our progress and current compliance with the law. It was not until April 22 – after we signed the Voluntary Resolution Agreement – that OCR informed us of its serious and, we believe, unsubstantiated finding. Given the extensive collaborative efforts to reach that Agreement, we are disappointed by the department’s course of action. Our repeated requests to speak with OCR in Washington about this new finding have been unsuccessful. 

“Under these circumstances, on April 26, we regretfully revoked our signature from the Voluntary Resolution Agreement. We could not, in good faith, allow our community to believe that we were not in compliance with such an important law. Revocation of the agreement in no way diminishes our commitment to moving forward with the steps included in that agreement or to continuing to enhance our policies and procedures. Indeed, many of those steps have already been taken. We look forward to working with OCR to resolve this disagreement and to implementing all of the elements in the Voluntary Resolution Agreement. We have stated that commitment in all our communications with OCR and we reaffirm it now. Our goal is a campus culture in which every member of our community is respected, supported and safe.  Sexual misconduct has absolutely no place at Tufts University.”

Tufts president Anthony Monaco met with OCR last week, and the school recommitted to the original agreement on Friday.

“We’ve had to react to changing guidelines and that has led to some confusion,” he told WBGH. Monaco told the station he believes OCR made an example of Tufts to warn other campuses.

Tufts is one institution of higher education among many being pressured by the Department of Education to improve their handling of sexual assault claims. On May 1, OCR listed 55 U.S. colleges under investigation for possible Title IX sexual violence violations. In late April, the White House issued guidelines designed to stem sexual assaults on campus and assist victims.

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About the Author

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Robin has been covering the security and campus law enforcement industries since 1998 and is a specialist in school, university and hospital security, public safety and emergency management, as well as emerging technologies and systems integration. She joined CS in 2005 and has authored award-winning editorial on campus law enforcement and security funding, officer recruitment and retention, access control, IP video, network integration, event management, crime trends, the Clery Act, Title IX compliance, sexual assault, dating abuse, emergency communications, incident management software and more. Robin has been featured on national and local media outlets and was formerly associate editor for the trade publication Security Sales & Integration. She obtained her undergraduate degree in history from California State University, Long Beach.

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