What is OCR?
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is a part of the U.S. Department of Education, charged with enforcing certain federal civil rights in educational settings. It investigates complaints of discrimination, provides technical assistance to institutions to help achieve compliance with civil rights laws, and addresses problems with compliance.
Why is OCR on campus?
Over the past few years, the OCR has conducted similar site visits at many colleges and universities. At Drake University, the OCR is reviewing the University’s overall policy and procedures in response to student allegations of sexual misconduct. OCR staff are also meeting with select University staff and students.
Is this connected to a particular incident?
Yes. The University was contacted by the OCR in October in connection with its response to an incident during the Fall term of 2014. Out of respect for the privacy of all the parties involved in incidents of this nature and the integrity of University procedures, the University does not discuss or comment publicly on particular allegations, complaints, or incidents of misconduct.
What did OCR ask for?
In addition to reviewing University records, the OCR has asked the University to arrange meetings with specific administrators, faculty, and staff involved in the University’s response to sexual misconduct and also to arrange focus group meetings with students.
Why do they want to meet with focus groups?
It is typical for the OCR to seek to hear directly from students about a University’s efforts to address sexual misconduct or discrimination.
With whom are they meeting?
In order to protect the privacy of students, faculty, and staff, and guarantee the integrity of the OCR inquiry, the University is not disclosing the identities of Drake community members who have been invited to meet with OCR representatives. It wouldn’t be appropriate for the University to speculate on the content of these conversations, which are opportunities for OCR staff to have private and unfiltered contact with members of the University community.
What else did they ask for?
In response to the OCR’s request, the University has provided a number of documents pertaining to our policies and procedures and to the incident in question. The University quickly made every effort to comply with the spirit and letter of OCR requests and work collaboratively with OCR staff to ensure an effective site visit.
What will we learn from this investigation?
The campus has been working to adopt best practices in addressing Title IX for some time, and we have confidence that we are making substantial progress. We welcome the OCR input and will utilize the findings to help us respond more effectively, promptly, and equitably to alleged violations and to make the campus a respectful, safe, and secure environment for all students, faculty, and staff.
What is the University’s stance on issues of sexual misconduct?
As outlined in the University’s Code of Student Conduct, Drake is deeply committed to an inclusive campus environment in which all members of the community are respected and have equal access to educational opportunity. We see sexual misconduct as fundamentally incompatible with the University’s mission and are committed to preventing and responding promptly and fairly to all violations.