University of Chicago in Hyde Park and tiny Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, 198 miles apart, are brought together on a list of U.S. universities and colleges currently being investigated by the Department of Education for Title IV violations.
That law prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds. While it is the same law that guarantees girls equal access to sports, it also regulates institutions' handling of sexual violence.
Located 198 miles southwest of Chicago, Knox College is a private university with about 1,500 students.
The university disclosed Wednesday that it has been under investigation since January by the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights for a possible Title IX violation. Knox is accused of mishandling a report of sexual misconduct that happened in the fall 2013.
"The most extreme result in terms of what OCR can do is essentially pull federal funding from the school, which of course is an extremely serious result for any school," said Christina Egan of McGuire Woods, LLP.
In an e-mail sent to Knox faculty and students, college President Teresa Amott said federal investigators will visit campus the week of May 19 to conduct interviews about the allegation.
The ABC7 I-Team first reported on Monday that University of Chicago was under federal scrutiny for the way a sexual abuse complaint was allegedly mishandled by University of Chicago officials. Student Olivia Ortiz told the I-Team that university officials mishandled her case, claiming that a University of Chicago official had her undergo mediation in the same room with her alleged abuser.
"I wish I would have known up front that these are my rights under Title IX, under FRPA, under Cleary Act," Ortiz said. "This is what they look like."
"What the list shows is that this is not unique to any one type of school," Egan said. "It really runs the gamut from small, big, coast to coast."
Today's public release of the list of universities under investigation comes two days after a White House task force promised greater government transparency on sexual assault in higher education.
"We hope this increased transparency will spur community dialogue about this important issue," Catherine E. Lhamon, the education department's assistant secretary for civil rights, said in a statement.
Lhamon said that just because a school is on the list does not mean that it has violated the law. Inclusion reflects that a particular institution is under investigation.
The I-Team requested the same list in March under the Freedom of Information Act but did not receive it during the 20 working-day time limit. The Department of Education claimed the delay was due to "the complex nature" of the request.
Here is the full list from the Education Department:ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
BUTTE-GLEN COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT BOULDER
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT DENVER
UNIVERSITY OF DENVER
UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT
CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT MANOA
UNIVERSITY OF IDAHO
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
HARVARD UNIVERSITY - LAW SCHOOL
UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS-AMHERST
FROSTBURG STATE UNIVERSITY
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN-ANN ARBOR
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL
MINOT STATE UNIVERSITY
CUNY HUNTER COLLEGE
HOBART AND WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGES
SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE
SUNY AT BINGHAMTON
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY
CARNEGIE MELLON UNIVERSITY
FRANKLIN AND MARSHALL COLLEGE
PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY
SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY
THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS-PAN AMERICAN
COLLEGE OF WILLIAM AND MARY
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-WHITEWATER
WEST VIRGINIA SCHOOL OF OSTEOPATHIC MEDICINE