More than 200 colleges and universities are under investigation by the federal government for their handling of sexual violence complaints, the Office of Civil Rights in the Education Department announced Thursday.
The list has grown by two schools — the University of Mary Washington and the University of Florida — since last week, when the department issued its last update during former president Barack Obama’s tenure.
There are 306 investigations at 225 schools. Some schools have multiple investigations open simultaneously, and inclusion on the list does not indicate that federal law has been violated there.
In 2014, the Obama administration shocked many by announcing that 55 campuses were under investigation, a sign that the department was making campus sexual assault — an issue advocates felt had long been ignored or covered up by many schools — an urgent national priority.
While many welcomed the change, as the list grew quickly — quadrupling in just a couple of years — some critics thought the administration was acting too aggressively.
The department has been updating the list regularly, and some had wondered whether it would continue to be shared publicly after President Trump took office, as one possible glimpse into how the new administration might address the issue of sexual violence. Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, was asked about the topic in a hearing last week.
On Thursday morning, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, questioned why the list had not been released yet. When it was issued in the afternoon, she said in a statement, “I’m glad that the Trump Administration chose this week to reconsider keeping this important information from survivors, students, and families — and I will push them to continue releasing it. Millions of women and men marched just days ago to make clear that they aren’t going to accept efforts to roll back progress for women and survivors, and I’m going to stand with them in holding President Trump accountable.”
Jason Botel, the senior White House adviser for education, responded by email: “When it was called to the attention of the new administration that the list was not released in a timely way, the Office of Civil Rights was directed to release it. To suggest this was anything other than an oversight on the part of OCR is simply untrue.”