Frequently asked questions about the OCR report
What does the Office of Civil Rights announcement mean for Oxy?
This is an important decision that we hope will encourage more students to engage with the Title IX Office to report sexual assault, ask questions, and learn about resources, both on and off campus. We also believe it will help the College continue to improve how it addresses the problem of sexual assault at Oxy.
How do the conclusions in the Oxy investigation compare to the findings in other cases?
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, as of May 2016 there were 235 open OCR investigations at 185 colleges and universities. Some 48 cases have been resolved since 2011. It’s our understanding that of those investigations that have been closed, there are only a few in which the OCR made findings that Title IX was not violated.
Why did the Department of Education investigate Occidental?
In May 2013, Occidental received notice that an investigation of the College had been initiated by the OCR arising out of a complaint filed the previous month by members of the Occidental community.
What did the complaint allege?
As is usual in such cases, the College never saw the complaint. However, the notice the College received from the OCR explained that it was alleged that Occidental had violated Title IX, the federal gender equity law that governs educational institutions, by not responding adequately to complaints of sexual assault. Specific allegations included discouraging survivors from coming forward; retaliating against advocates and students who made complaints; not handling complaints promptly and equitably and giving inadequate sanctions to students found responsible for sexual assault.
How did the OCR investigate the complaint?
OCR investigators conducted initial site visits on campus during which they interviewed members of the college community (including students, student focus groups, faculty and staff) and reviewed case files and other relevant documents. After these initial visits, the College continued to cooperate fully, making College staff available for interviews and providing all information requested by OCR.
Why did the investigation take so long?
To thoroughly address the concerns raised, the OCR gathered significant amounts of oral and documentary evidence -- a process that takes time. According to the latest data, by 2014, OCR sexual violence investigations at post-secondary institutions took an average of 1,469 days – four years – to complete. In short, timing is largely driven by the OCR, not the College.
Has the OCR released a report on its investigation?
The resolution letter describes the steps that OCR took to investigate the complaints against the College and the conclusions that it reached. The resolution agreement describes the steps that the College has agreed to take in the future to ensure continuing compliance with Title IX. The OCR will continue to monitor Occidental’s compliance over the next three years. Occidental looks forward to continuing to cooperate with the OCR and seeking technical assistance, as needed.
What conclusions did the OCR reach regarding the allegations against the College?
Broadly speaking, the OCR determined that the College’s policies, practices and procedures did not violate Title IX. The OCR did find that three cases in 2012-13 took too long to resolve. In these three cases, however, the OCR also concluded that the case delays did not result in an inequitable response and did not create a hostile environment. The OCR’s concerns (primarily about the timeline for resolution of complaints and the climate on campus) are addressed in the resolution agreement.
Having just received the findings letter, we are still in the process of reading and understanding its conclusions. A summary will be posted here at a later date.
What does the resolution agreement require the College to do?
- Continue to conduct an annual student sexual assault climate survey through 2018-2019. (The College conducted the first student survey during fall 2015. The results of that survey are available here.)
- Develop and administer an annual climate survey for faculty and staff.
- During the next three years, provide to the OCR an annual review of complaints/reports of sexual harassment, including sexual violence, and the timeline for resolution of such complaints, including the timeline for each of the stages in the process.
- Develop additional training materials regarding retaliation (what it is; how “protected activity is defined;" how to report retaliation) and incorporate the materials in existing annual training sessions for faculty and staff over the next three years.
The OCR will actively monitor the College’s progress in these areas through the end of the 2018-19 academic year.
Did the College negotiate the resolution agreement and findings with OCR?
The findings were not negotiated, and the College did not see the resolution letter until June 9. (The College received the resolution letter on the same day that it was released to the public). The College did negotiate the resolution agreement to ensure that it included realistic implementation timelines for the Title IX Office.
Now that the complaint has been investigated and resolved, what’s next?
Throughout the investigation, the College was already working to improve our response to sexual violence and other forms of discrimination. For example, in May, the Title IX Coordinator informed the community of some of the following priorities for next year:
- Revise the grievance procedure for resolving sex discrimination complaints against staff and faculty.
- Identify and train additional community members willing to serve as advisors to students (complainants and respondents).
- Identify collaborative training opportunities with local law enforcement (LAPD) under the recently signed Memorandum of Agreement.
- Revise the College’s online prevention education program to provide information about how survivors can opt out of the online program if they so choose, and participate in an alternative educational experience.
Are there any other investigations pending against the College?
Not by OCR. A separate Department of Education review to evaluate Occidental’s compliance with Clery Act requirements for reporting sexual assaults and other crimes is still underway. We do not know when the review – also launched three years ago -- will be completed.
For more information on the OCR process and the College's response to sexual violence go to: