The latest college to be called out for incorrectly handling sexual assault cases is also one of the country's most prestigious: Princeton University in New Jersey was found Wednesday to have violated Title IX guidelines. Princeton failed to "promptly and equitably respond to complaints of sexual violence" and did not "end the sexually hostile environment for one student," according to a news release from the federal Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. The university's policies and procedures for responding to assaults also did not comply with Title IX.
The office did not plan to punish Princeton, as it has reached a compliance agreement. Princeton updated its policies this fall to address the problems found in the investigation, most notably enacting a "preponderance of the evidence" standard, according to the release. Previously, Princeton operated under a "clear and persuasive standard," the Trentonian reported.
As part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX forbids sex-based discrimination in all schools -- K-12, colleges and universities -- that receive federal financial assistance. The investigation at Princeton came after three students filed complaints. Princeton students told the Yale Daily News that gender discrimination was particularly rampant at the university's 11 eating clubs, or private mansions where upperclassmen eat meals. Only a third of eating club officers were women. Meanwhile, news broke Tuesday that Princeton police were investigating a photo taken at one of the eating clubs, the Tiger Inn, of a freshman woman performing oral sex on a senior. The club's officers passed the photo around via email, Planet Princeton reported.
"We are pleased that this investigation has been concluded with an agreement that brings the university's policies and procedures into compliance with all statutory and regulatory requirements," university president Christopher L. Eisgruber said in a statement Wednesday. "The agreement reaffirms our commitment to address all matters of sexual misconduct in ways that are fair, effective and transparent."
While Princeton was in compliance in some respects, it must now review all complaints from the start of the 2011-2012 school year to Sept. 1, 2014. Incorrectly handled complaints must be fixed if possible.
Under the university's new procedure, sexual assault cases will be handled quickly -- generally, within 45 days. The school also appointed a team of three investigators to into sexual assault allegations, the Associated Press reported. Both the accuser and accused will get appeal rights.
Princeton was one of 76 schools under investigation for possibly violating Title IX, the Huffington Post reported. They included the University of California-Berkeley, Florida State University, University of Chicago, Boston University, Harvard University's law school, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dartmouth College, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University and Vanderbilt University.