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Two institutions under federal review

Published: Friday, May 2, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

CHICAGO (AP) – The University of Chicago and Knox College in western Illinois are on a list of dozens of institutions of higher education around the country under investigation for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints.

Investigators from U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights visited the University of Chicago earlier this year and plan a visit to Knox College in Galesburg later this month. No details have been released about the complaints that triggered those inquiries. Both schools said they were cooperating.

They are on a list of 55 colleges and universities under investigation. The U.S. Department of Education released the list Thursday, offering the first comprehensive look at which campuses are under review for possible violations.

Investigators from the Office for Civil Rights visited the University of Chicago earlier this year in connection with a complaint filed in March 2013. The university has not heard back from the OCR since the visit, spokesman Jeremy Manier said.

OCR asked to review records, interview staff and meet with what the university described as “selected focus groups” of students to hear about their experiences with the university’s policies on sexual misconduct. In a statement released in February, the university said it “has made every effort to comply with the spirit and letter of this inquiry.”

It also emphasized “a particular commitment to addressing sexual misconduct and unlawful harassment and discrimination involving students” and said it has regularly updated its policies on how to handle sexual misconduct.

The university said separately in February that it is considering adopting new student disciplinary procedures as well as creating a position for a specialist on sexual misconduct and discrimination under the leadership of the dean of students. It hopes to implement the changes in July.

Knox College President Teresa Amott said in a campus-wide email Wednesday that the investigation there began in January.

It involves a report of alleged sexual misconduct from October, though the email gave no details. College spokeswoman Megan Scott said she could not reveal specifics.

OCR officials will visit the Galesburg campus the week of May 19 to interview students.

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