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After Title IX probe, CWRU agrees to changes on how it addresses sexual assault, harassment

A sign for Case Western Reserve University stands in front of the school's Peter B. Lewis building.
Tim Harrison
Ideastream Public Media
In 2020, an anonymous Instagram account was created called CWRU.Survivors.

The U.S. Department of Justice Tuesday announced it had reached an agreement with Case Western Reserve University for the private university to make campus-wide changes to how it handles allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The changes promised will affect several different areas on campus, from its Greek Life programming to its Center for Women to its Office of Equity.

Alleged issues with the university's handling of student-on-student and staff-on-student sexual misconduct were given greater light through hundreds of reports on an anonymous Instagram account started in 2020, called CWRU.Survivors.

The department’s investigation concluded that, among other issues, Case Western Reserve did not respond appropriately to a "well-known climate of sexual harassment in its Greek Life program," a release from the Department of Justice reads.

"Further, CWRU employees did not report sexual harassment complaints to the office tasked with responding to such allegations and providing students with support and resources," the release reads.

According to a copy of the resolution agreement between DOJ and CWRU, the university has agreed to provide further funding for the Flora Stone Mather Center for Women, the Greek Life Office, and University Health and Counseling Services to hire additional advocates, counselors and confidential resources, while reorganizing its reporting structure.

Further changes include more training on recognizing sexual misconduct for students participating in Greek Life and across campus, and an overhaul of policies and procedures related to its handling of complaints.

The university in a statement noted the agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice was "voluntary," and both the DOJ and Case Western Reserve noted the university cooperated "fully" in the two-and-a-half year investigation.

"CWRU takes the moral responsibility to protect our campus community very seriously and we recognize that there is always room for improvement in our efforts to do so," the university wrote. "In addition to its own internal review and in connection with the DOJ investigation, CWRU engaged Bruce Berman, a nationally recognized Title IX expert and partner in the law firm of WilmerHale, to review and evaluate CWRU’s compliance with Title IX policies and procedures. While the DOJ’s findings do not align with these assessments, we have identified additional ways to enhance our Title IX processes."

Conor Morris is the education reporter for Ideastream Public Media.