Is Title IX really protecting college students from sexual misconduct on campus?

USA Today's analysis is an incomplete picture of how some of the largest public universities handled reports of sexual misconduct between 2014 and 2020, a time frame that saw significant developments in Title IX.

This summer, the US Department of Education celebrated 50 years of Title IX while proposing new changes to its regulation. It gave educational institutions better guidance on how to provide students with equitable education free from harassment based on sexual orientation.

“Over the last 50 years, Title IX has paved the way for millions of girls and women to access equal opportunity in our nation’s schools and has been instrumental in combating sexual assault and sexual violence in educational settings,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in a statement. “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this landmark law, our proposed changes will allow us to continue that progress and ensure all our nation’s students—no matter where they live, who they are, or whom they love—can learn, grow, and thrive in school.”

Despite the continued federal concentration on the issue, very few students who have violated the law faced severe punishment, according to first-of-its-kind data from USA Today. According to the data, colleges suspended 1 out of every 12,400 students each year. Only 1 in 22,900 were expelled.

Methodology

USA Today‘s analysis is an incomplete picture of how some of the largest public universities handled reports of sexual misconduct between 2014 and 2020, a time frame that saw significant developments in Title IX.

In 2021, they gathered data from officials at 107 FBS public universities related to outcomes of sexual harassment reports among students. The news organization requested aggregate numbers instead of specific cases due to privacy laws. Here are the questions they provided officials:

  1. From 1/1/2014 through 12/31/2020, how many reports did your institution receive of a student accused of a Title IX offense?
  2. Of the number in Question 1, how many reports were informally resolved? 
  3. Of the number in Question 1, how many formal investigations were opened?
  4. Of the number in Question 3, how many formal investigations resulted in a finding of responsibility against one or more students for a Title IX offense?
  5. Over the same time period, how many students found responsible in a formal investigation for a Title IX offense were expelled/dismissed/permanently separated from your institution?
  6. Over the same time period, how many students found responsible in a formal investigation for a Title IX offense were suspended/temporarily dismissed from your institution?
  7. Over the same time period, how many students found responsible in a formal investigation for a Title IX offense were issued sanctions other than expulsion/suspension/dismissal?

A look at the data

56 out of the 107 schools provided complete data related to student expulsion and suspension. Of those schools, 594 students were expelled for sexual misconduct while 1,094 were suspended.

For brevity, we’ll take a look at the 10 schools that have the highest expulsion/suspension rates, which “represents the number of students expelled or suspended for sexual misconduct by the school in an average per 10,000 students enrolled,” the analysis reads.

Coastal Carolina

  • Suspensions: 9
  • Expulsions: 12
  • Expulsion/suspension rate: 2.6
  • Average enrollment: 11,704

Colorado State

  • Suspensions: 52
  • Expulsions: 15
  • Expulsion/suspension rate: 2.6
  • Average enrollment: 36,476

Michigan State

  • Suspensions: 35
  • Expulsions: 50
  • Expulsion/suspension rate: 2.2
  • Average enrollment: 55,449

Wyoming

  • Suspensions: 6
  • Expulsions: 16
  • Expulsion/suspension rate: 2.2
  • Average enrollment: 14,125

Bowling Green

  • Suspensions: 15
  • Expulsions: 13
  • Expulsion/suspension rate: 2
  • Average enrollment: 20,012

Central Michigan

  • Suspensions: 21
  • Expulsions: 17
  • Expulsion/suspension rate: 2
  • Average enrollment: 27,709

Georgia Southern

  • Suspensions: 34
  • Expulsions: 3
  • Expulsion/suspension rate: 2
  • Average enrollment: 26,734

Ohio

  • Suspensions: 27
  • Expulsions: 21
  • Expulsion/suspension rate: 2
  • Average enrollment: 33,916

Massachusetts

  • Suspensions: 35
  • Expulsions: 12
  • Expulsion/suspension rate: 2
  • Average enrollment: 34,285

Arizona State

  • Suspensions: 25
  • Expulsions: 55
  • Expulsion/suspension rate: 1.9
  • Average enrollment: 59,873
Micah Ward
Micah Wardhttp://universitybusiness.com
Micah Ward is a University Business staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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