Last month, I wrote about two separate Title IX lawsuits, one at Florida State University and one at the University of Tennessee involving college athletes that garnered national attention. Now, a Title IX complaint has been filed with the Department of Education concerning the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Kelsey Stein, a reporter with Al.com, published a story on March 8 concerning an anonymous complaint filed by a student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) with the Department of Education. The allegations include that UAB did not properly investigate her complaint of being raped by a fellow student and did not act in a timely manner.
As a result of the incident, the student contacted End Rape On Campus, a non-profit, whose Mission Statement sets out that it “works to end campus sexual violence through direct support for survivors and their communities; prevention through education; and policy reform at the campus, local, state, and federal levels.” According to the AL.com story, as well as the web site for End Rape on Campus, they have been involved in and reported on numerous cases around the country, including allegations that a student was forced to illegally sign a confidentiality agreement, that the Title IX investigator at a school had been accused of sexual impropriety, that a Greek Advisor, who upon being told by a female student that she had been raped by another student, told her that her alleged assailant had been disciplined numerous times, and several instances of Deans and other high ranking school officials acting contrary to Title IX.
Practice pointer. As students learn more about the obligations imposed on colleges and universities by Title IX concerning sexual assault, more and more complaints will be filed with the Department of Education and in the courts. As with any employment setting, it is imperative that colleges and universities educate and train all employees and representatives, including presidents, principals, deans, coaches, professors and those involved with Greek organizations, on Title IX and what to do should a student report a sexual assault. The number of complaints and lawsuits will continue to rise, potentially resulting in large judgments or settlements, Department of Education investigations, large legal fees, extremely adverse publicity, lots of time wasted defending the lawsuits, and not educating the students. Now is the time for all colleges and universities to take Title IX seriously and do everything you can to ensure compliance.