BALTIMORE (AP) — Johns Hopkins University is among a growing number of schools under federal investigation for their handling of sexual assault complaints.
An email from the Baltimore school's president on Tuesday alerted students and faculty that the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation into a complaint filed earlier this year about Hopkins' response to alleged sexual assaults.
As of Aug. 6, 74 higher education institutions are under investigation for possible Title IX violations. Title IX is a federal law that bars gender discrimination. The Education Department updates the list weekly, and Hopkins was not on last week's list.
In the email, President Ronald Daniels said that university officials spoke Monday with federal investigators and "pledged our full cooperation."
"Sexual violence on our campuses, or anywhere, is unacceptable," Daniels wrote, adding that "the safety and well-being of all members of the Johns Hopkins community is among our most fundamental responsibilities and will always be our shared priority."
Johns Hopkins is a private university with nearly 20,000 full- and part-time students. Hopkins is the top recipient of research and development spending by federal agencies and leads U.S. universities in research spending, according to the National Science Foundation.
Title IX violations can potentially result in loss of federal funding.
Together with Johns Hopkins Medicine, it is Maryland's largest private employer.
University spokesman Dennis O'Shea said the school does not have any information about the complaint that prompted the Education Department to open its investigation. He said the school "will be getting underway quickly in terms of getting together the documents asked for."
In May, the university came under fire after two students filed a complaint against the school saying it violated both Title IX and the Clery Act, which requires universities to inform the student body of threats to safety on or near campus. The complaint alleges that administrators "failed to provide a timely warning after a drug-facilitated gang rape" at a fraternity house in the spring of 2013.
Daniels in the email told students that the university "has begun a thorough review of our performance in meeting our obligations under the Clery Act." Daniels also said the school is "nearing completion of an independent review" of the allegations outlined in the complaint about the school's handling of the rape at the fraternity house to "inform our efforts and hold ourselves accountable for any errors or misjudgments."
Just because an institution is under federal investigation does not prove or imply that it violated any laws.
Daniels said the school has expanded its resources dedicated to dealing with sexual assault on campus. The school this summer launched a website to provide students with information on sexual assault policies, and assembled a Sexual Violence Advisory Committee made up of students, faculty and administrators.
"Those efforts speak to our university's firm commitment to meeting the challenges we face in protecting our students from sexual violence," Daniels wrote.