December 5, 2014
The Spectator is reporting that Hamilton College is under federal investigation by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Hamilton is one of 90 post-secondary institutions being investigated by the office. As indicated in the article, the OCR launches investigations “based on complaints of alleged discrimination.” The investigation itself in no way implies that Hamilton has engaged in discriminatory practices — the inquiry is merely investigating to see if the alleged discrimination did in fact happen.
While the OCR has long investigated schools that receive federal funding for possible Title IX violations, announcing the schools subject to investigation is a new practice as of this year. In May, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon said, “We are making this list available in an effort to bring about more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights.” The release of the names is also an attempt on behalf of the federal government to bring more attention to the issue of sexual assault on college campuses.
The Spectator acknowledges that Hamilton College has taken significant steps to reform the process by which the College deals with sexual assault allegations. We encourage the College to continue to do everything in its power to improve sexual assault policies. Yet, one area that must be improved is transparency: the College should have notified the student body about the OCR investigation. We encourage Hamilton to be as open as possible when dealing with this sensitive issue with its students. While we understand the sensitive nature of this issue, the degree to which Hamilton College is handling sexual misconduct according to federal standards is an important matter of student safety and interest. A greater understanding of the process and its goings on can only further trust in the process.
It is important that students at Hamilton know that efforts are made to ensure that the College fully complies with the latest federal regulations outlined in Title IX. This knowledge and security will hopefully also make people fearful of being the victim of a sexual assault breathe easier and deter students from committing sexual assault. Furthermore, it is a reminder that there is always recourse if one feels that the school did not adequately address an allegation of sexual assault.
We encourage members of the Hamilton community aware of sexual misconduct to fully comply with College and federal regulations and to disclose information without violating the privacy of those involved.