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Campus Context

  • Sexual assault gained attention on the campus in November 2014, when Rolling Stone published and later retracted a high-profile account of a violent gang rape, resulting in lawsuits against the magazine by university affiliates.
  • Students have protested what they see as a rape culture on the campus and an insufficiently responsive administration.
  • UVa was one of the initial 55 colleges under investigation in this wave of federal enforcement as announced by the Education Department in May 2014.
  • The institution has affirmed its commitment to victims of sexual assault, collected resources online, revised its policies, outlined an “action plan for safety,” promoted bystander intervention, and hosted a conference on sexual misconduct among college students.
  • About 24 percent of female undergraduates said they had experienced nonconsensual penetration or sexual touching due to physical force or incapacitation since arriving on the campus, according to a climate survey by the Association of American Universities. About 41 percent of all students believed it was very or extremely likely that UVa would conduct a fair investigation.
  • A state task force in Virginia issued several recommendations in the spring of 2015, including to require public and private colleges to create sexual-assault-response teams, to conduct climate surveys at public colleges every two years, and to develop a state grant program to support research on gender-based-violence prevention. The state legislature also passed two laws, one requiring campus police officers to immediately notify local law-enforcement authorities after opening an investigation into felony sexual assault, and another requiring college employees to report any sexual assault disclosed to them to the campus Title IX coordinator.

Cases

Case 2
Opened:July 22, 2016
  • Details will be added as Freedom of Information Act requests are filled.
Case 1
Opened:June 30, 2011 - Sept. 21, 2015

Docket: 11-11-6001

  • This federal investigation began as a compliance review in 2011, soon after the Education Department signaled tougher enforcement of Title IX, and was modified to include a federal complaint filed on behalf of a student in 2012. That student sued the Education Department in 2014, demanding that it resolve her complaint.
  • After an increasingly torturous set of negotiations, the investigation was resolved, with the Education Department finding that the university had violated the gender-equity law for “failing to promptly and equitably respond to certain complaints of sexual violence.” The department determined that “a basis for a hostile environment existed for affected students” and that the university “failed to eliminate a hostile environment and take steps to prevent its recurrence” during certain time periods from 2008 to 2014.
  • According to documents first obtained by The Washington Post, university and public officials waged an intense battle to influence the outcome of the federal investigation.
  • Under the settlement, UVa agreed, among other things, to follow its revised sexual-misconduct policies, develop a system for tracking all reports, review those from 2011-14 to determine whether each was handled appropriately, allow the Education Department to review reports and monitor institutional response through the 2015-16 academic year, provide regular training to students and employees, and improve outreach to students.
  • Here are some highlights from the communication between the university and the Office for Civil Rights in the final five months of this investigation.