Government shutdown causes pauses in Title IX probe

by Rebecca Rowland | 10/7/13 10:00pm

While campus has been largely uninterrupted by the recent government shutdown, the standstill has temporarily halted the Education Department's Title IX investigation into Dartmouth's sexual assault policies.

The investigation, which began in July after a Clery Act complaint was filed two months prior, has been paused since the government ceased operations on Oct. 1. Students said they do not believe the shutdown will have long-term impacts on the Title IX investigation, which may take several years.

The Education Department did not send out any formal notification of the investigation's suspension and has not answered emails sent by Clery complainants Anna Roth '13 and Nastassja Schmiedt '15 since the beginning of the shutdown, Roth said in an email, adding that the increased number of complaints in recent years may further result in a slower resolution process.

"Since Dartmouth's Title IX investigation opened recently and may take years to resolve, and since the Clery investigation has not yet been formally opened, in my opinion it is unlikely that there will be any noticeable impact on Dartmouth's specific case," Roth said.

The Education Department's Office of Civil Rights is not responding to press calls until the shutdown ends.

Anna Winham '14, another public complainant on the Clery case, said the investigation is a stimulant for progress.

"The way that I understand that Title IX investigations have happened at other schools is that the investigation itself more than any fines that we've placed against the school seems like the motivating factor for change," Winham said. "So the fact that Dartmouth is already under investigation is already having an effect."

The shutdown has affected other institutions farther along in the Title IX investigations, as several planned site visits by the Education Department have been suspended. Yale University, whose 15-month long Title IX investigation ended last year, received a $165,000 fine and follow-up visits, one of which was canceled due to the shutdown.

The University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Occidental College, Swarthmore College and the University of Southern California, along with others, also face halted investigations.