The Department of Education has released a list of 55 colleges and universities facing investigation under the federal Title IX law for their handling of sexual abuse claims, NPR reports. Releasing the list is described as an unprecedented move. Title IX prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds. It is the same law that guarantees girls equal access to sports, but it also regulates institutions’ handling of sexual violence and increasingly is being used by victims who say their schools failed to protect them. Harvard and Harvard Law School, as well as Princeton and Dartmouth, are on the list, as are other prominent institutions, such as the Universities of California, Michigan and North Carolina.
Schools in 27 states and the District of Columbia are on the list. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights says a school’s inclusion on the list does not mean it’s violating the law and hopes that it will encourage community dialogue about the issue. “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,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon. The Associated Press says that in the past, the agency would confirm such investigations when asked, but students and others were often unaware of them.