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Final Word: Federal sex-abuse inquiry puts colleges in spotlight for wrong reason

It’s that graduation time of year. So many parents are heading off to see their sons and daughters graduate over the next few weekends. Those four years (OK, maybe five years) go by so fast.

I remember going through the college CHOICE decision making process five years ago with our daughter and that seems like just yesterday.

When she decided on the University of Arizona, she did so for a variety of reasons: it was close enough to home, but not too close; it had great campus life options and the scholarship money was too good to pass up.

But we never asked about the numbers of sexual assaults committed on campus. Maybe we should have.

The U.S. Department of Education released a list of colleges and universities under Title IX investigation. There are 55 higher-education institutions on that list being investigated for possibly mishandling complaints about sexual assault and harassment on their campuses.

Women who have filed such complaints have long criticized the department for shielding schools under investigation and for not providing enough transparency on the reviews.

What if the way a college responded to such reports was part of a college’s commonly accepted reputation?
Would you consider those statistics?

I am betting you would.

You want to know that if your daughter heads off to Harvard or Dennison or Dartmouth, and she is unfortunately assaulted late one night, or early one morning, that crime will be investigated.

You’re probably familiar with the story of Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner from Florida State University.

An FSU student said she was raped by Winston on Dec. 7, 2012. The school dragged its feet investigating and while doing so, met with Winston ALONE, in direct contradiction of legal guidance.

In December (well ahead of the big college bowl games,) the university announced there wouldn’t be any criminal charges filed against its quarterback and the atmosphere at the news conference was nothing short of celebratory.

Weird, right?

Well, your daughter may not attend Florida State, but Arizona State is on the list. The University of Southern California is, too. Small colleges to big ones, there are 55 on the list.

Next time US News and World Report comes out with its list of top schools, maybe this will be a new column.
Don’t you WANT to know?

I do.