Utah State University was originally expected to report on its response to sexual violence on campus to the Justice Department at the end of the month, but that deadline has been extended to 2021.
USU spokesperson Tim Vitale told The Herald Journal this week that the DOJ is giving the school more time because of the “COVID interruptions” and “questions following the new guidelines from the Department of Education.”
The coronavirus pandemic caused USU to cancel events, including commencement, and in-person instruction midway through spring semester. It has also led school officials to introduce a plan for “multiple course delivery methods” this coming fall.
On top of all that, USU’s Office of Equity, which handles discrimination cases, is figuring out how to implement the new rules on how colleges and universities respond to sexual misconduct after the Trump Administration announced its guidance following years of review.
The public health and political headwinds USU is dealing with mean that instead of submitting a report to the Department of Justice for July 31 — which would have encompassed data from the beginning of this year through June — the school will file it in January of 2021.
The report would have been one of the first major milestones for USU since the school signed a settlement agreement in February after the DOJ completed a two-year-long compliance review of the university and determined it failed to respond to numerous instances of sexual violence — which meant it was in violation of the federal Title IX law, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex at schools that receive federal funding.
Among the provisions in the 20-plus page settlement agreement is that USU will submit two “monitoring reports” to the department a year: one in January, the other in July. The reports are expected to cover the respective previous six months of activity.
Vitale said he was not sure when USU and DOJ agreed there would be no monitoring report for this month.
The settlement was signed by USU President Noelle Cockett and two Department of Justice officials on Feb. 12, nullifying the need for a January, 2020, monitoring report.
And if the settlement terms are any indication, the first monitoring report that will be filed will cover extensive information, including a spreadsheet of data related to each instance of sexual violence on campus and additional analysis of it; the number of students who may not have completed anti-sexual harassment training; a list of USU employees who may not have completed the training; a list of any complaints against USU filed in court and relevant details; as well as “all complaints, concerns and recommendations” from community members and law enforcement personnel related to USU’s Title IX policies and procedures.
Earlier this year, a reporter asked the Department of Justice for comment on its settlement agreement with USU and a spokeswoman for the agency said it had no comment.