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Too often colleges and universities had excused or turned a blind eye to the crimes of serial sexual predators.
The media, after often dismissing the claims of rape victims, was finally more sympathetic, covering accounts of sexual violence from the University of Virginia to Yale and Harvard. It was as if women, especially young women, had to speak especially loudly and especially often to finally be heard—a not unfamiliar concept.
Universities were not reporting, much less dealing with, either sexual harassment or explicit sexual violence.
In 2011, the government’s approach changed dramatically: A “Dear Colleague” letter on sexual violence was sent to colleges and universities from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), pointedly reminding them of their obligations under Title IX and presaging aggressive enforcement.
By August 2013, the public face of the department’s enforcement efforts was Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary at the Office for Civil Rights, a zealous advocate, formerly head of impact litigation at Public Counsel, a public interest law firm; before that, she was assistant legal director of the ACLU of Southern California.
Title IX (of the Education Amendments of 1972) was supposed to promote equal opportunity in any educational program receiving federal money.
But until recently, Title IX was dormant and largely ignored.