Salt Lake City, Utah - Wednesday the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah announced a settlement agreement with Utah State University (“USU” or the “University”) to ensure the University responds adequately to sexual harassment, including sexual assault, of students in its education programs and activities.
“Sexual harassment and violence have no place on college campuses, and too often deny students their right to an equal education. No student should feel unsafe because of a school’s failure to address sexual violence and its devastating impacts,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “We look forward to working with USU to implement this agreement and to ensure that students can learn in a safe and healthy environment.”
“Utah schools should be free of discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual assault. When such misconduct occurs, schools must know how to respond appropriately,” said John W. Huber, U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah. “We are pleased that USU has joined with us as a partner in these efforts.”
The settlement, when fully implemented, will resolve the Department’s compliance review of USU under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), which prohibits sex discrimination in education programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. The Department initiated the review in 2017 based on allegations that the University failed to respond to numerous reports of serious student-on-student sexual assault. USU is a recipient of financial assistance from the Department.
The Department reviewed USU’s policies, procedures, and responses to sexual harassment complaints over a more than four-year period and concluded that the University did not comply with Title IX. The agreement announced today details specific steps USU has agreed to take to improve its investigation and resolution of sexual harassment complaints, help students, faculty, and staff understand their reporting options, duties, and obligations with respect to sexual harassment, and ensure that members of the campus community know where to go for resources and support.
Under the agreement, USU will:
- revise its notice of nondiscrimination and all other relevant sexual harassment policies, procedures, and practices;
- respond promptly, equitably, and adequately to known sexual harassment that has created a hostile environment;
- train students and employees on University policies and federal laws pertaining to sexual harassment, how and to whom they can report allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation, details on the resources available and how to access them, and the University’s Title IX grievance procedures and potential outcomes;
- conduct climate surveys to collect information on students’ understanding of USU’s reporting procedures, the effectiveness of the University’s outreach, education, and prevention efforts, and the incidence of sexual harassment and related retaliation; and
- ensure the individuals designated to administer and coordinate Title IX efforts receive adequate training, resources, and support necessary to coordinate these efforts effectively.
The Department will monitor compliance with the terms of the agreement, which will be in effect through the 2022-2023 academic year.