A Message to the Community President Ruscio Informs the Campus of a Title IX Investigation

To: The University Community

From: President Ken Ruscio

Date: February 21, 2015

On February 18, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) notified my office that it will investigate a Washington and Lee student's complaint that the university, in responding to her grievance of a sexual assault last spring, discriminated against her based on her sex.

We have pledged our full cooperation with OCR. As I have written to you on several occasions this year and will reiterate here, sexual assault is unacceptable anywhere and runs counter to our institution's fundamental values. Nothing is more important than the welfare of our students. We are committed to providing effective education for all our students in this area, to fair processes for investigating, resolving, and adjudicating claims of sexual assault, and to responding to the federal and state guidelines and directives.

The student's complaint alleges that the university "subjected her to unequal and overly restrictive confidentiality requirements" during and after the grievance proceedings and failed to provide her "appropriate protective measures during the proceedings and remedial measures after finding the male student responsible." We will, of course, use this opportunity to review our efforts with respect to the student. As with all our students, she will continue to have our ongoing support.

In its notification letter, the OCR states that opening an investigation "in no way implies that OCR has made a determination on the merits of the complaint. During the investigation, OCR is a neutral fact-finder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from the complainant, the recipient, and other sources, as appropriate."

OCR's review will encompass a broader review of policies and procedures. We welcome this review and are committed to assuring that our policies and procedures are legally compliant and also protective of the needs of our students and employees. The University's current policy, "Interim Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy," can be found online.

I wanted all of you to know about the OCR notification. We cannot comment publicly on the specific case, of course. We do, however, reaffirm our commitment to building a community of trust and respect for all members of our community and to establishing and following policies and practices toward that end.