U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights Dismisses Complaint against Westminster

October 3, 2017

OCR finds the college did not discriminate against complainant in 2013 incident

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has concluded that Westminster College did not discriminate against a complainant in a report filed on Nov. 10, 2014. Based on the results of its investigation, the OCR determined there was “insufficient evidence to establish that the college discriminated against the complainant as alleged.”

The OCR’s investigation was in response to an incident in 2013. The OCR issued its determination in a letter of finding after reviewing the college’s investigation of the 2013 incident and the overall handling of Title IX reports on campus. Westminster is the first Utah college to receive a letter of finding from the OCR regarding a Title IX complaint.

Based on the evidence, the OCR determined Westminster conducted a prompt and thorough investigation and avoided potential bias by: 1) retaining an independent investigator and attorney; 2) interviewing witnesses; 3) allowing parties an equal opportunity to present evidence and witnesses; and 4) rendering a final determination within a reasonable timeframe (68 days, including the appeal process). Additionally, the OCR concluded the college’s response to other sexual misconduct complaints “did not raise issues of any systemic concerns and no further investigations are warranted.”

Officials from the OCR made a site visit to Westminster in November of 2015 as part of its investigation. During that time, the team conducted individual and group interviews, offered opportunities for the campus to speak with OCR officials, interviewed Title IX officials and reviewed the college’s Title IX policies and procedures. The OCR’s final letter of finding was issued on Sept. 29, 2017.

As a result of the OCR process, Westminster identified areas for improvement and updated its Title IX policy and procedures, including initiating mandatory online Title IX training for all first-year students, requiring bystander-awareness training (conducted by students) for new students and implementing a variety of sexual violence awareness campaigns for the campus community. The college also continues to conduct self-assessments to strengthen its Title IX programs.

“Westminster and all colleges throughout the nation can always do more to prevent sexual violence, said Stephen Morgan, Westminster president. “The safety and security of our students is a top priority, and we will continue to improve our processes and confront incidents of sexual violence head-on.”

For more information on the OCR’s letter of finding, view the document.