CONCORD — Dartmouth College will be stronger and safer after the Education Department finishes investigating how the Ivy League school handles sexual harassment and assault complaints, a college spokesman said yesterday.
In an unprecedented step, the Education Department released the names yesterday of the 55 colleges and universities facing investigations under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds and regulates how they handle sexual violence. The agency previously would confirm such investigations when asked, but students and others were often unaware of them.
That wasn’t the case at Dartmouth, where the investigation began last May and was initiated by the department as a compliance review rather than a response to specific complaint. The investigation has been publicized in numerous news articles, and students, faculty and alumni were encouraged to speak with investigators when they visited campus in late January.
The department can withhold federal funding from schools that don’t comply with the law, but it so far has opted to negotiate voluntary resolutions instead.
Dartmouth spokesman Justin Anderson said yesterday the college has been in close and regular contact with the Department of Education to provide officials with requested information.
“We are hopeful at the end of this there will be a resolution that will strengthen our internal processes and result in a safer community,” he said. “There’s always something we can learn and ways to get better.”
Two weeks ago, Dartmouth president Philip Hanlon called sexual assault one of three critical issues — along with high-risk drinking and lack of inclusion — that are compromising the school’s core mission.
Dartmouth received nationwide attention several years ago for allegations of fraternity hazing, and students recently protested at Hanlon’s office with a long list of demands aimed at creating a more inclusive, diverse campus.