Dept of Ed Reduces Yale’s Sexual Assault Crime Reporting Fine to $155k

The US Department of Education has agreed to reduce the fine imposed on Yale University for underreporting sexual assaults on campus by $10,000. Jim Shelton of the New Haven Register reports that the New Haven, Connecticut-based school will have until the end of next week to pay the new fine which totals $155,000.

The DOE initially announced the fine in April. The federal law known as the Clery Act makes reporting every crime on campus mandatory. The fine stems from four incidents of violent sexual assault that Yale failed to report over the 2001-2002 period, and the original amount was $27,500 per incident.

Investigators also said Yale did not properly define its campus in statistical reports. Specifically, Yale did not include certain parts of Yale-New Haven Hospital as being campus property. The Education Department fined Yale $27,500 for this.

Lastly, the department found that Yale’s 2004 security report did not include policy statements in seven required areas.

“By failing to include these statements, Yale denied the campus community important information about its campus security policies and violated the Clery Act,” the government’s report stated.

Yale contested the fine back in April, but according to Christine Isett, a DOE spokeswoman, the university hasn’t contacted federal officials since the new fine resolution letter had been published. Isett noted that the university had until August 9th to pay the fine or face sanctions.

Yale argued that by amending its 2004 report in 2005, it met its disclosure burden. The DOE agreed and reduced the fine by $10,000 for one of the infractions in question. The maximum fine was upheld in the other three incidents.

Yale had no comment on the fine Tuesday. University spokeswoman Karen Peart said there was “nothing new to report at this time.”

The fine comes after years of investigation and consideration. The federal government issued a Final Program Review Determination in May 2011. Yet it did not announce fines until April of this year.

The federal Clery Act is named for a Lehigh University student who was murdered in 1986 in her dormitory.

Yale isn’t the only school whose policies on handling and reporting sexual assault on campus is getting scrutiny from the DOE. Andrea Pino was raped when she was a student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her subsequent experience with system prompted her to file a grievance with federal authorities.

Allie Grasgreen, in an article for Inside Higher Education, said that Pino’s complaint, made after she was appointed UNC’s Title IX coordinator, is already being considered a “watershed moment” for the sexual assault policies in colleges and universities around the country.