Occidental College Subject of Federal Investigation by Department of Education Office for Civil Rights
Today, OSAC received a letter from the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announcing its investigation into allegations made by OSAC in its 250-page complaint against Occidental College submitted on Thursday, April 18th, 2013. From the OCR’s letter to lead complainants, Professor Caroline Heldman and Professor Danielle Dirks, the federal complaint alleges the following:
- Students at the College have been subjected to sexual harassment and sexual violence by other students and a College staff member, and the College has failed to respond appropriately and effectively to notice of the sexual harassment and sexual violence.
- The College has failed to respond adequately to internal complaints filed by students alleging that students had been subjected to sexual harassment and sexual violence, dating back to the 2010-2011 academic year.
- Students who have filed complaints with the College regarding sexual harassment and sexual violence have been subjected to intimidation and retaliation by College administrators and by other students, including further sexual harassment by other students, and the College has failed to respond appropriately and effectively to notice of the intimidation and retaliation.
- Employees and students who have advocated that the College change its policies and procedures with respect to preventing and responding to sexual harassment and sexual violence have been retaliated against by administrators at the College.
- The College’s consistent failure to respond adequately to complaints by students of sexual harassment and sexual violence has created a hostile environment on campus on the basis of sex.
- The College has not adopted and published grievance procedures providing for the prompt and equitable resolutions of complaints of sex discrimination, including sexual assault and sexual violence.
We are grateful to the original 37 (now 42) individuals who bravely shared their experiences of sexual harassment, sexual battery, sexual assault, rape, and retaliation at Occidental College with OSAC in order to seek justice when the institution failed them.
We are grateful to the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights San Francisco Office for their prompt examination of our complaint. We understand that the OCR’s quick response has been one of the fastest in Title IX history. We look forward to assisting them with every stage of their investigation into Occidental’s mishandling and treatment of sexual misconduct.
Please find the OCR’s response to our complaint below.