United States Department of Education Investigation Clears Boston University of Discrimination Complaints
(Boston, Mass.) — An extensive 16-month investigation by the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has determined that Boston University fully, fairly, and promptly investigates and processes student complaints of sexual assault. The inquiry stemmed from nearly identical Title IX discrimination complaints filed with OCR by two former students. OCR investigators found that the University complied with federal law in its handling of the two students’ allegations of sexual assault, and moreover, acknowledged that the University’s policies are fairly and consistently applied.
“We are pleased to learn of the Office for Civil Rights’ findings in these cases,” says Michael B. Rosen, associate general counsel. “The determinations fully exonerate Boston University’s handling of these cases as we always believed they would, and confirm that our student complaint and disciplinary process complies with Title IX.”
Specifically, the OCR’s lengthy investigation determined there was insufficient evidence to uphold the two similar — but separate — complaints filed with OCR. The students had alleged Boston University “failed to process [their] complaints of sexual assault in a timely and equitable manner” and that the “University retaliated against” them in pursuing disciplinary action for their acknowledged violations of the University’s Code of Student Responsibilities.
After conducting thorough investigations, the University had concluded in each of the alleged victims’ original complaints — the first made in November 2000, the other in February 2002 — that there was insufficient evidence of sexual assault by the alleged perpetrators. In addition, the District Attorney to whom these matters were referred by the University declined to bring criminal charges in either case.
An issue in each OCR complaint was whether the University’s policy of holding students accountable for alcohol violations or the illegal use of drugs — consistent with the Federal Drug Free Schools and Campus Act — may deter a student from making a complaint of sexual or other assault. In its findings, the OCR concluded that the University’s policy was consistently applied and did not have a “chilling effect” on the complainants. In each case, the fact that the students alleging sexual assault had violated the University’s alcohol and drug policy was not in dispute and those students, along with other students who were found to have violated the policy, received sanctions for their violations.
“We are pleased that the OCR findings uphold the University’s policies and practices with regard to conducting investigations into student complaints, making determinations, and issuing sanctions based on our findings,” says Rosen. “This decision is a vindication for the University and for all our dedicated employees, including residence life staff, police officers and detectives, judicial affairs investigators, general counsel, and other administrators, whose highest priority is the safety and well-being of all of our students.”
Note: The complaints are DOE Office for Civil Rights Nos. 01-02-2006 and 01-02-2037.