Campus & Community

DU reaffirms its zero tolerance policy toward sexual harassment in response to federal inquiry

The University of Denver announced May 1 that it has reaffirmed its longstanding zero tolerance policy toward sexual harassment and violence on and off campus.

The announcement comes in response to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) release of a list of 55 institutions nationwide — including the University of Denver — that have open investigations involving sexual violence. The government has emphasized that the list involves investigations of complaints and not judgments.

The University of Denver’s inclusion on the list stems from a single claim filed with the OCR. This case originally was investigated and reported by the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity in compliance with Title IX and similar laws that govern our sexual harassment and violence policy. An individual involved in any case has the right to file a complaint with the OCR. The OCR is currently reviewing filings related to the case, with the full cooperation of the University. The claim is awaiting a ruling from the OCR.

Long committed to the safety, health and well-being of its entire community, the University of Denver not only investigates claims of harassment and violence, it works hard to prevent them. Prevention efforts include a posting of clear guidelines related to prohibited conduct at the institution’s Office of Equal Opportunity webpage.

When grievances and complaints are filed, the University conducts comprehensive fact-finding reviews that adhere to best practices and carefully vetted administrative processes. To ensure fair and thorough investigations, the University follows guidelines issued by the OCR.

Efforts at prevention and education include ongoing programming by the University’s Center for Advocacy, Prevention and Empowerment (CAPE), which provides resources to help promote healthy, nonviolent relationships. Just as important, CAPE offers advocacy, support and counseling for victims of sexual and relationship violence, as well as stalking and sexual harassment.

Still another initiative, the Office of Campus Safety’s Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program, offers a comprehensive course that teaches awareness, prevention, risk reduction, risk avoidance and hands-on self-defense.

Off campus, the University maintains relationships with a network of nonprofit organizations that deal with related issues. These include the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Rape Assistance and Awareness Program.

The Department of Education’s release of the list of colleges and universities under investigation for the handling of sexual assault complaints grows out of the Obama administration’s quest to bring more openness to the issue of sexual violence on campuses across the nation.

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