UI Dean of Students responds to federal investigation

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by Jamie Grey

KREM.com

Posted on May 3, 2014 at 8:55 AM

BOISE -- University of Idaho's longtime Dean of Students is responding to an ongoing federal investigation into the UI and dozens of other colleges and universities.

MORE: WSU, UI facing US federal sex assault investigation

The Department of Education released a list Thursday of all pending complaints that schools may not have properly handled sexual violence and harassment concerns. 

The complaint was apparently filed last March, and the university found out last April.

Friday the Bruce Pitman, Dean of Students, said to his knowledge this is the first time the university has been investigated for this type of claim, which falls under Title 9 rules guaranteeing education and programs will not be denied based on gender.

Pitman talked about the increased responsibility universities and colleges have for the safety and security of students and faculty from violence to sexual assaults and harassment.

The dean says added positions and programs really began after the Virgina Tech massacre.

"I think that the real watershed event and time was Virginia Tech, and since that time, frankly, risk management issues and prevention programs have just become a bigger and more fundamental part of our work," said Pitman.

The UI says it has fully cooperated with federal officials on this investigation and again noted a variety of programs put in place before and after the complaint that address sexual assault and harassment.

Some of those were put into place after the death of student Katy Benoit in 2011, who was killed by a former professor she had dated.

The possible outcomes here are simply that the Office for Civil Rights finds the school is compliant or that they aren't.

If found non-compliant, the federal office would work with the campus to create a corrective plan to address shortcomings.

It's important to keep in mind all of these schools identified are on a list for an ongoing investigation not a known problem.

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