Education Department Finds Southern Methodist University in Violation of Title IX

smulogoThe Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education ruled that Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, was in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for its lack of prompt and equitable response to accusations of gender-based and sexual harassment and sexual violence on its campus.

The university signed a resolution agreement with the Department of Education that outlines steps that must be taken to bring the university’s response mechanisms into line with Title IX. Among the provision of the resolution agreement, the university agreed to:

  • Revise and, following OCR review and approval, finalize its “interim” Title IX grievance procedures to comply with Title IX.
  • Report to OCR on SMU’s ongoing implementation of the Task Force recommendations, including those requiring: the creation of a pocket-sized card for all SMU employees with information about how to support students who report sexual misconduct and a checklist for staff members who may meet with a student to outline their rights and the resources available; clearer protections against retaliation; and the development of bystander intervention training.
  • Develop and implement a procedure for sharing information between the SMU Police Department and the Title IX coordinator.
  • Notify students and employees about the university’s Title IX coordinators and their contact information in its nondiscrimination notice, as well as in other publications and notices.
  • Track harassment reports, investigations, interim measures, and resolutions.
  • Train staff and students on the revised university policies and procedures.
  • Conduct annual climate assessments to inform future proactive steps to be taken by SMU.
  • Review sexual harassment/violence complaints and reports of sexual harassment/violence filed during and since 2012-2013 to determine whether the institution investigated each complaint or report promptly and equitably and, following OCR review and approval of SMU’s proposed response, take action to address any problems identified.

Catherine Lhamon Portait“I appreciate Southern Methodist University’s strong commitment in this agreement to provide a safe and supportive educational environment for its students,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “I look forward to working with Southern Methodist University in its implementation of the agreement.”

The full resolution agreement may be downloaded by clicking here.

Filed Under: Sexual Assault/Harassment


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