Several focus group participants went on to say that the University’s Title IX investigators were slow and unresponsive. Sometimes, participants claimed the Title IX office would wait over a month before responding to complaints. During this delay, attendees warned, witnesses’ recollections of events could fade and taint their testimonies.
On Jan. 25, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights opened its sixth Title IX investigation into alleged mishandling of sexual assault investigations by Cornell, making it the university with the most active Title IX investigations. Under Title IX, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” At Cornell, that promise has come into question. The accounts of all parties involved in the recent Doe v. Roe case were unfairly evaluated under Policy 6.4, the University’s problematic policy for handling cases of sexual harassment. Cornell came under fire for instances of evident discrimination in this case.
Cornell has been under pressure for its Policy 6.4 guidelines after numerous Title IX investigations were filed by the Department of Education. An increasing number of lawsuits have criticized the policy, even after it was revised in August.
Attorney Alan Sash, representing a client identified as John Doe, alleged at the hearing that Cornell University mishandled his client’s sexual assault claim because of his gender, calling it “shameful” that Cornell tried to get the lawsuit thrown out.
“Cornell has given us a revolving door of excuses as to why it won’t investigate our complaint,” Sash said. “That’s unacceptable. If Cornell is serious about tackling sex discrimination, then it must investigate all complaints even if it means investigating people on the payroll.”
The new inquiry into Cornell coincides with investigations of Arizona State University and the College of Wooster by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. At both colleges, open title IX investigations are ongoing.