WASHINGTON ― Princeton University has agreed to review its handling of sexual assault cases over the last three years and make policy changes after the government found that it had failed to respond “promptly and equitably” to complaints of sexual violence in violation of federal law, the U.S. Department of Education said Wednesday.
The settlement comes after an investigation by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights into how Princeton and more than 50 other colleges across the country responded to sexual assault accusations. Investigations have started at additional schools; as of Wednesday, the department was looking at a total of 86.
The federal government said Wednesday that Princeton violated the law by having policies that did not comply with federal requirements and by failing to end a sexually hostile environment for one student.
The government found that the Ivy League school did comply with federal law on other aspects of sexual assault policy, such as its designation of someone to handle Title IX compliance issues.
A major part of the settlement comes through new procedures the university put in place in September.
Under the new policy, Princeton has a team of three trained investigators looking into allegations of sexual assault. The university also changed the standard of evidence for sexual disciplinary matters to a preponderance of evidence rather than “clear and persuasive.”
In settling its case with the federal government, Princeton agreed to publicize its new policies on sexual assault cases and develop a bystander intervention campaign.
Princeton also agreed to track and report to the government details of how it handles sexual assault allegations, and to work with local law enforcement agencies.
The school also agreed to re-examine sexual assault complaints filed from the 2011-12 academic year through Sept. 1 to see if they were handled correctly. The school also agreed to make counseling or other assistance available for the parties in those cases.
A Princeton spokesman did not immediately comment Wednesday on the resolution.