SMU on List of Schools Being Investigated for Title XI violations

The Education Department has taken the unprecedented step of releasing the names of the 55 colleges and universities currently facing a Title IX sexual abuse investigation.

The release comes two days after a White House task force promised greater government transparency on sexual assault in higher education.

The agency previously would confirm such an investigation when asked, but students and others were often unaware of them.

Title IX prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds. It is the same law that guarantees girls equal access to sports, but it also regulates institutions' handling of sexual violence and increasingly is being used by victims who say their school failed to protect them.

Two Texas schools are on the list -- the University of Texas-Pan American and Southern Methodist University.

“I think if the university is under investigation there is obviously a problem, and I think they need to address the issue,” said SMU student Alexandra Kern

SMU released a statement, which said:

SMU applauds the U.S. Department of Education¹s efforts to eradicate sexual violence on college campuses and to provide universities with additional tools to combat sexual assault. Our goals are the same.

The matters under review by the Education Department have been investigated by SMU and predate our University task force review of sexual misconduct policies and procedures. The University has been aggressive in putting into practice wide-ranging new procedures to inform and protect our students, to provide prompt and effective resolution of complaints, and to hold violators accountable while treating all students fairly.

SMU continually reviews and updates its programs in comparison with national benchmarks, and we are pleased that the White House also has made these matters a priority for all American universities. No issue is more important than the health and safety of our students.

This year, SMU has reported for sexual assaults. Back in 2012, SMU took action on its own policy, after two students were arrested for alleged assaults.

A task force was created to look at the schools procedures.

Students say they get an email if anything happens on campus.

“For every situation we have here we have the avenues available for those who are assaulted to seek help. I am not sure what more the school can do than make everyone aware what is going on and treat the victims,” said SMU student Yaw Asante.

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