Tufts University is surprised and disappointed that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has declared the University to be out of compliance with Title IX. Tufts University is deeply committed to the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. We have in place and fully support policies and procedures that comply with Title IX, are consistent with the significant guidance documents issued by the department, and effectively serve our students, faculty and staff. We believe the department’s recently announced finding has no basis in law and we have requested to speak with OCR’s Washington Office to discuss this unexpected and troubling announcement. This situation in no way lessens our commitment to moving forward with steps to enhance our policies and procedures. We have already taken many of those steps. We look forward to working with OCR to resolve this issue.
For nearly four years, Tufts has worked cooperatively with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to resolve the department’s investigation of one student’s complaint regarding sexual misconduct that was filed with OCR in 2010. Throughout this lengthy investigation, the University cooperated fully with OCR. We complied with every request for access to information and personnel and worked collaboratively with OCR to seek resolution of the complaint.
Tufts also conducted its own internal review of the University’s response to the incident underlying the complaint. Based on our own review, we acknowledge that more could have been done to address the student complainant’s concerns at that time. We have since taken steps to remedy that situation. More broadly, we have also revised our policies, procedures and the structure of our response to ensure that we respond to sexual misconduct complaints in a prompt and equitable manner that complies with Title IX and applicable regulations.
On April 17, 2014, Tufts signed a Voluntary Resolution Agreement with OCR that outlined the numerous actions that Tufts has taken since 2010 to achieve these goals. A listing of significant steps taken by the University is appended. The Agreement also outlined additional actions Tufts agreed to take to further enhance the effectiveness of its Title IX responses. Many of these actions incorporate evolving guidance received from the department over the past few years, including the April 4, 2011 Dear Colleague Letter.
At no time before we signed the April 17 Voluntary Resolution Agreement did OCR indicate that it found the University’s current policies out of compliance with Title IX. Instead, OCR consistently affirmed our progress and current compliance with the law. It was not until April 22 – after we signed the Voluntary Resolution Agreement – that OCR informed us of its serious and, we believe, unsubstantiated finding. Given the extensive collaborative efforts to reach that Agreement, we are disappointed by the department’s course of action. Our repeated requests to speak with OCR in Washington about this new finding have been unsuccessful.
Under these circumstances, on April 26, we regretfully revoked our signature from the Voluntary Resolution Agreement. We could not, in good faith, allow our community to believe that we were not in compliance with such an important law. Revocation of the agreement in no way diminishes our commitment to moving forward with the steps included in that agreement or to continuing to enhance our policies and procedures. Indeed, many of those steps have already been taken. We look forward to working with OCR to resolve this disagreement and to implementing all of the elements in the Voluntary Resolution Agreement. We have stated that commitment in all our communications with OCR and we reaffirm it now. Our goal is a campus culture in which every member of our community is respected, supported and safe. Sexual misconduct has absolutely no place at Tufts University.