St. Mary’s College of Maryland. (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

The federal government disclosed Wednesday that it has opened an investigation of how St. Mary’s College of Maryland handles sexual violence reports.

The announcement means the public liberal arts college in Southern Maryland is now one of 96 colleges and universities nationwide that face such scrutiny from the U.S. Education Department Office for Civil Rights. Last May, there were 55 schools on the list, but the number has climbed steadily in recent months.

The investigation of St. Mary’s was opened Friday.

St. Mary’s said in a statement it is aware of the federal action. “We take the safety of our campus community very seriously and are working closely with OCR to respond promptly to its requests,” the college said.

The federal investigations seek to determine whether schools are complying with the 1972 anti-discrimination law known as Title IX. They can be triggered through an individual complaint or a decision by the Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, to review a particular school’s record.

Other Maryland schools among the 96 under investigation are Frostburg State University, Morgan State University and Johns Hopkins University. Those in Virginia are the University of Virginia, James Madison University, the University of Richmond, the College of William and Mary and Virginia Military Institute.

Catholic University in the District of Columbia is also under investigation.