A Title IX investigation was recently filed against Boston College through the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
Katie O’Dair, BC’s Title IX coordinator, said that this lawsuit lands BC on the list of 161 institutions who are under review.
“This is the first time BC has been involved in an OCR investigation of a sexual violence complaint,” O’Dair said in an email. “Boston College is fully cooperating with the OCR in its review.”
O’Dair explained that the general protocol for an OCR investigation involves the OCR’s requesting information about policies, procedures, and cases, and possibly conducting interviews and a site visit. The Title IX coordinator could not share any case-specific details, nor could Dean of Students Thomas Mogan, who deferred the conversation to O’Dair.
“BC continues to take proactive steps to enhance our response and prevention efforts not only to comply with Title IX, but also to adhere to our mission to care for and support all of our students and provide a safe campus environment.”
-Title IX Coordinator Katie O’Dair
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education’s Campus Safety and Security Data Analysis, there were a total of 22 reported rape occurrences on campus in 2014 in on-campus student housing facilities. This goes alongside 11 reported occurrences of forcible sex offences on campus in 2013, 10 of which were in on-campus student housing facilities. In the same records, Boston University had five on-campus rapes reported in 2014, and 8 forcible sex offences in 2013, while Harvard University had a reported 33 on-campus rapes in 2014, and 35 forcible sex offences in 2013. Data for 2015 has not yet been reported.
After the Association of American Universities released a survey covering statistics on sexual assault at 27 different universities in the U.S. in September 2015—not including BC—Director of BC’s Women’s Center Katie Dalton explained that the increased number of reports can be seen as encouraging, because it means that students are responding to the educational initiatives that encourage students to report assaults. She said that if BC is any indication of national trends, sexual assault is happening here, and all students need support.
This information comes in light of recent focuses from the administration on sexual assault on campus. In 2013, an increase in reported sexual assaults caused BCPD to review and report the latest Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. In October 2014, BC revised this policy and the investigative process. In May 2014, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault released a report with the goal of helping colleges and universities address, respond to, and prevent sexual assault on campus. In response, BC evaluated its sexual assault resources, with the hopes of making reporting assaults and violations easy and available to members of the community. Finally, in March 2015, administrators held a forum on the sexual assault policy, outlining the reporting process.
Currently, BC students are able to report sexual assaults to various outlets. Students can receive counseling from a confidential source, speak with someone in the Women’s Resource Center, file an internal statement to the Office of the Dean of Students within the conduct system, or pursue criminal charges with BCPD.
“BC continues to take proactive steps to enhance our response and prevention efforts not only to comply with Title IX, but also to adhere to our mission to care for and support all of our students and provide a safe campus environment,” O’Dair said in an email.
Correction: this article has been updated to reflect the fact that the party who filed the Title IX complaint against the University is not the same as the recent graduate who filed a civil complaint for a wrongful assault conviction.
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor