DENVER | The Boulder and Denver campuses of the University of Colorado, the University of Denver and Regis University are among 55 institutions with unresolved sexual violence or harassment cases, the U.S. Department of Education said Thursday.
Catherine E. Lhamon, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a statement that the list was released in part to spur discussion of the issue. Appearance on the list is no indication that a university has done anything wrong, she said.
The list was released two days after a White House task force promised greater government transparency on sexual assault in higher education.
Only Massachusetts, with six, and Pennsylvania, with five, had more schools on the list than Colorado. Several other states also had four.
Representatives for UC Boulder, the University of Denver and Denver-based Regis University said they were cooperating with the department on investigations, each involving one incident.
UC Denver said it only learned it was under investigation when it was informed of Thursday’s announcement. It said it contacted the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and was told that notification had been mailed Tuesday that it was being subjected to a general review of its Title IX compliance. Title IX prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds.
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette noted that three of the schools are in Denver, which is in her district. She called on school leaders to take action if they had failed to properly address sexual violence and harassment.
Will Jones, spokesman for the University of Denver, said no determination of wrongdoing had been made. He said the university responded to federal inquiries three months ago and was awaiting the next move.
Jones said DU’s case involved two students, one of whom went to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights after the university investigated and decided not to pursue allegations that he would not detail. He said the police and district attorney also looked into the allegations and declined to pursue a case. The Denver district attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
In a statement, Regis University spokesman Cindy Matthews said the complaint against her institution stemmed from allegations made in 2011.
“Regis University takes the complaint seriously and has responded appropriately,” she said, adding she could not give details about the case.
Bronson Hilliard, spokesman for the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus, said the school had publicly announced in 2013, when the probe began in its case, that it was under federal investigation. Hilliard would not give details Thursday and the university has not released details in the past.
The Denver Post reported at the time that the case involved a female student who reported being sexually assaulted by a male student off campus. According to Post, the campus Office of Student Conduct found the male student guilty but did not immediately bar him from campus. He was eventually suspended.
Hilliard said that the case prompted Chancellor Philip DiStefano to bring in outsiders to investigate the university’s Title IX compliance policies and procedures. The university released recommendations from the law firm that conducted the investigation this January. Hilliard said Thursday that one of the chief recommendations was that the university hire an official charged with overseeing all Title IX compliance, and that CU Boulder hoped to have that coordinator in place by late summer.
CU Boulder had an unrelated issue regarding the climate on campus earlier this year. The chancellor replaced the chair of its philosophy department and suspended the department’s admission of graduate students after the American Philosophical Association’s Committee on the State of Women, according to its report released by CU, found that the department fostered an environment of “unacceptable sexual harassment, inappropriate sexualized unprofessional behavior and divisive uncivil behavior.”