Updated:WASHINGTON, D.C. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- Six Massachusetts institutions were on a list released by the U.S. Department of Education Thursday of 55 colleges and universities facing Title IX sex abuse investigations.
The Massachusetts schools on the list include Amherst College, Boston University, Emerson College, Harvard College, Harvard UniversityâLaw School and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
"We are making this list available in an effort to bring more transparency to our enforcement work and to foster better public awareness of civil rights," Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said. "We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue. I also want to make it clear that a college or university's appearance on this list and being the subject of a Title IX investigation in no way indicates at this stage that the college or university is violating or has violated the law."
The Department of Education did not release any details related to the investigations. However, they note the list includes probes that began due to complaints received by the Office for Civil Rights and those initiated by the office as compliance reviews. Further information would not be released until the conclusion of the investigations.
The release of the list coincides with a goal set forth by President Barack Obama's White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The task force aims to bring more transparency to the government's enforcement activities around this issue.
Click here to read the full statements from each college or university being investigated in Massachusetts.
"The inclusion of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in a list released today by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault is related to a standard compliance review. The university is not the subject of a Title IX complaint," said UMass Amherst officials via a press release Thursday.
The release goes on to say that a review began in June 30, 2011 and no conclusions have been reached. University officials say they fully support the task force's work and that OCR regularly conducts compliance reviews under Title IX.
Harvard University provided a statement that applied to the undergraduate college and the law school.
"Harvard, as a University and as a community, continues to take the issue of sexual harassment and sexual violence extremely seriously. In that context, Harvard has taken a number of steps to foster prevention efforts and to support students who have experienced sexual misconduct," the statement read in part.
The statement goes on to list some of the efforts Harvard has made, including hiring a Title IX officer last spring, and forming a university-wide task force that will assess how the school can better prevent sexual misconduct.
Harvard has formally submitted its policies and procedures for review to OCR in recent weeks, the statement read, and "after any OCR feedback is received, Harvard will move quickly to announce and implement them."
In Boston University's case, OCR is investigating a single complaint against the school made last October, according to a statement from the university.
"While we believe the University provided the student with a prompt and equitable resolution of the complaint in full accordance with the requirements of Title IX, we are cooperating fully with OCR in its investigation and are always open to improving the manner in which we respond to any incident of sexual misconduct reported to us," the statement read.
Emerson College stated that while administrators could not comment on specific cases, the university "has been working diligently with our students, faculty, and staff to expand our education and sexual assault prevention programs."
The college has also hired someone to be a director of violence prevention and sexual assault response advocate, as well as hired an outside consulting firm to review Emerson's Title IX policies, the statement read. The statement also explained that the college has strengthened educational and training programs and revised survivors' resource materials.
Amherst College stated that "In the fall of 2012, a group of articulate and courageous students disclosed a range of problems in the College's previous efforts to prevent and respond to incidents of sexual misconduct. Since then, we have made important changes and will continue to do so."
Some of these changes include the addition of new staff in the counseling center, a "Sexual Respect Educator," as well as a Title IX Coordinator. The college has also added new educational programs and changed the adjudication process for sexual assaults and harassment.
Earlier this week, the Department of Education updated their guidelines to describe the responsibility of schools that receive federal funds to address sexual violence and other forms of sexual discrimination under the Title IX law.
Other institutions on the list:
Arizona State University
Butte-Glen Community College District
University of California-Berkeley
University of Southern California
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Colorado at Denver
University of Denver
University of Connecticut
Catholic University of America
Florida State University
University of Hawaii at Manoa
University of Idaho
University of Chicago
Frostburg State University
Michigan State University
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Minot State University
Cuny Hunter College
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Sarah Lawrence College
Suny at Binghamton
Ohio State University
Oklahoma State University
Carnegie Mellon University
Franklin and Marshall College
Pennsylvania State University
Southern Methodist University
The University of Texas-Pan American
College of William and Mary
University of Virginia
Washington State University
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
© 2016 Cox Media Group.
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