The number of federal Education Department investigations into sexual assault-related cases at colleges and universities is “shockingly low” Diane Rosenfeld, who teaches a class on the federal Title IX law at Harvard Law School, tells the Center on Public Integrity, especially considering the hefty estimated percentage of female students – one in five, according to a Justice Department-funded – whose college educations are disrupted by rape or attempted rape.
Russlynn Ali, who was appointed last year to head the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights, painted its modest enforcement history as a remnant of policies pushed by the Bush administration, and said that the Obama administration would be more aggressive in enforcing Title IX in sexual assault cases. “I can  commit to you that where universities or school systems don't comply with civil rights laws, where they are unwilling to look to find a resolution  we will use all of the tools at our disposal including referring to Justice or withholding federal funds or going to adjudication to ensure that women are free from sexual violence,” Ali says. Critics contend that until now, the message to college administrators has been a starkly different one. “A smart and savvy attorney tells them, 'You don't have to do jack squat,' ” said Sarah Dunne of the American Civil Liberties Union and a former U.S. Justice Department civil-rights lawyer. ” 'They're not going to go after you.' “