Aug 31, 2023 - News

CWRU and DOJ agree to settlement following Title IX investigation

The Case quad in fall. Photo: Case Western Reserve University

The Department of Justice and Case Western Reserve University have reached an agreement to resolve a federal Title IX investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct on campus.

Why it matters: The investigation, initiated in February 2021, concluded that Case did not respond appropriately to a "well-known climate of sexual harassment" in the university's Greek houses and failed to provide support and resources for survivors.

Catch up quick: During summer 2020, an Instagram account called @cwru.survivors launched to publicize the stories of survivors of sexual assault.

  • Hundreds of anonymous posts described not only a culture of rampant sexual misconduct on campus, but also a lack of institutional support for survivors — "systems of reporting and discipline so ineffectual that they exacerbated trauma."

Context: Title IX refers to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal aid.

  • Title IX investigations respond to allegations of sex-based discrimination, which include allegations of sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Details: The DOJ agreement, finalized last week, calls for Case to institute a number of reforms, including:

  • Publicizing Title IX policies and protocols and developing user-friendly materials so the CWRU community knows how to report concerns.
  • Delivering comprehensive annual training for all students and employees to understand their rights and the university's obligations under Title IX.
  • Reforming the university's Greek Life Office programming.
  • Providing students who experience sex discrimination the resources to prevent disruptions to their education.
  • Funding for the university's women's center, Greek Life Office and University Health and Counseling Services to provide support to students, including services for victims and alleged offenders.

What they're saying: "This settlement sends a strong message that sexual harassment on college campuses will not be tolerated," said U.S. Attorney Rebecca Lutzko, in a statement.

  • "We acknowledge and commend the students from CWRU whose efforts shined a light on this issue."

The other side: Case cooperated fully with the investigation and said in a statement that it had already instituted a number of the reforms required under the DOJ agreement.

Of note: Case has retained the law firm Jones Day to conduct an independent review of its Title IX policies.

  • Justin Herdman, a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Yvette McGee Brown, a former Ohio Supreme Court Justice, will lead that work.

The bottom line: "We recognize that these actions do not alleviate the experiences that some members of our CWRU family have had while on campus," Case said in a statement.

  • "To those impacted, we are committed to fostering trust by further enhancing our resources to provide a vibrant and safe campus experience for all."

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Cleveland.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Cleveland stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Cleveland.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more