The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has announced it will enter into an agreement with Ohio State to ensure proper Title IX obedience following the conclusion of a compliance review of the university, according to a Thursday release.
OSU was one of 55 U.S. colleges and universities being investigated by the department for its handling of sexual abuse complaints under Title IX.
The review began in 2010 and was not complaint-based, the release said.
The findings of that review— which were also released Thursday— mostly praised OSU’s efforts on Title IX compliance.
“The university has demonstrated its strong commitment to vigorously addressing sexual assault and sexual harassment on its campuses, including by taking effective steps to stop sexual harassment, prevent its recurrence, eliminate any hostile environment, and remedy its discriminatory effects on complaints and any others as inappropriate,” the release said.
The OCR did conclude, however, that the university’s procedures and policies to respond to Title IX complaints had been insufficient, and OSU has adapted to become in compliance with the law.
Title IX is a section of the Education Amendments of 1972 which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in publicly-funded programs.
During the investigation, the university has improved its documentation of investigations, has formed a sexual violence consultation team, and developed “online training modules for students on bystander intervention,” according to the release.
The university will also be required to “provide and expand mandatory sexual assault and harassment training to all members of the university community.”
OSU spokesman Chris Davey praised the resolution in a Thursday email.
“We are grateful for the collaboration with the Department of Education in completing a thorough, proactive review of our Title IX programs and policies, and we are very pleased that the review has found no major concerns and that Ohio State has proper protocols and resources in place for combatting sexual harassment and sexual misconduct,” he said. “The completion of this process, and steps outlined in the Resolution Agreement, support Ohio State’s continued commitment to supporting an environment that is free from sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and discrimination.”
OSU’s Title IX compliance came under further public scrutiny after a two-month investigation by the university found a “sexualized culture” within the marching band. Band director Jonathan Waters was fired July 24 at the end of the investigation, when the university determined that Waters knew about harassment within the band, or at least should have, and did little to stop it.
A second investigation into the band, led by former Ohio attorney general Betty Montgomery, is currently underway, and the Board of Trustees continues to label the university’s Title IX compliance as a “high risk.”
In their report, the OCR agreed with the university that a “sexually hostile environment” within the band violated Title IX.
Since his termination, Waters has vehemently defended his leadership of the band, and has received an outpouring of support from some band alumni. His firing was also protested at the first Board of Trustees meeting of the year, which led chair Jeffrey Wadsworth to give a brief forum to a representative of TBDBTL Alumni Club.