BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The ongoing federal probe into how Johns Hopkins University deals with sex assault cases takes another step this week as federal officials visit the campus.

Derek Valcourt explains as part of the investigation, those federal investigators want to hear from students and staff.

In the next few days, they’ll be meeting with students in groups and even privately, if needed, as they try to take the pulse of the campus when it comes to sexual violence and harassment.

Outrage grew on the campus of Johns Hopkins University after students learned they had not been immediately notified about an alleged gang rape at a fraternity house in 2013. Those concerns sparked a complaint against Hopkins with the US Department of Education.

Emails included in the complaint show university officials discussing how a warning to students could create unwanted attention and concern over the criticism they could take for not acting months after the allegation was made. Johns Hopkins later concluded it should have issued a timely warning of the alleged assault and made changes to assure a rapid response in the future.

“We help students,” said Laura Dunn, a sex assault victim’s advocate.

Dunn says another student victim also came forward, claiming she was discouraged from filing a complaint.

“She was told that the process at Johns Hopkins was ineffective and that no one receives consequences and it wasn’t worth her time,” Dunn said.

Now officials with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights wants to hear from people on campus about how the university is handling some of these sensitive issues. They’ll meet with students and staff in focus group sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It’s not that they are looking just at these specific instances,” Dunn said. “So now is the time to speak out if there is ever a time.”

“They should have done this way earlier,” said student Taylore King.

Many Hopkins students are waiting for the outcome of this lengthy investigation.

“I just hope something actually comes of it because it seems like sort of that they are going to come investigate and then not really do anything so that’s what I’m worried about as a student, especially a female student here,” she said.

Hopkins declined our request for an interview but in a letter to students and staff, they say they are committed to helping victims and reducing sexual misconduct on campus.

They issued a letter to students:

“Dear Homewood Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Campus sexual violence is an important issue that the Johns Hopkins University takes very seriously. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is currently reviewing the university’s policies and practices related to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which is the federal law that prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence. Johns Hopkins is fully cooperating with the review, which is ongoing.

Representatives from OCR will be on campus on Tuesday, March 31; Wednesday, April 1;
and Thursday, April 2, and invite you to participate in focus group sessions to discuss issues related to sexual harassment and sexual violence. OCR will also be available to speak privately during individual meetings with anyone regarding these issues, including those who do not identify themselves in any of the groups listed below, or anyone who is a survivor of sexual violence or sexual harassment who may wish to speak with OCR. All are encouraged to attend, and all viewpoints are welcome.

Johns Hopkins is committed to reducing sexual misconduct on campus, providing victims with the support and assistance they need, and resolving complaints of sexual misconduct promptly and fairly. We have taken numerous steps to accomplish these goals, including creating a Sexual Violence Advisory Committee to serve as a forum for community engagement and advise on the university’s policies, practices, and programs related to sexual violence; establishing the Johns Hopkins Sexual Assault Helpline; providing Title IX and bystander intervention training to members of the Johns Hopkins community; and informing victims of sexual misconduct about their rights and the resources available to them.

All sessions will be held in Levering Hall (Sherwood Room, Great Hall, or Conference Rooms A or B). We will follow up in a later message with specific room assignments. The schedule of the focus groups is as follows:

Tuesday, March 31
1 p.m.: General session (undergraduate students)
2 p.m.: General session (graduate students)
3 p.m.: Resident assistants
4 p.m.: Student organization leaders
5 p.m.: Student organizations focused on women’s rights and/or sexual violence
3-5 p.m.: Individual meetings with OCR are available. Please call an OCR representative at the number below to schedule a private meeting. Walkins are also welcome.

Wednesday, April 1
10 a.m.-noon: Individual meetings with OCR are available. Please call an OCR
representative at one of the numbers below to schedule a private meeting. Walkins
are also
10 a.m.: Female studentathletes
(intercollegiate and clubs)
11 a.m.: University staff
1 p.m.: University faculty
2 p.m.: Members of fraternities
3 p.m.: General session (undergraduate students)
4 p.m.: Members of sororities
3-5 p.m.: Individual meetings with OCR are available. Please call an OCR representative at the number below to schedule a private meeting. Walkins are also welcome.

Thursday, April 2
10 a.m.: Male student athletes (intercollegiate and clubs)
11 a.m.: General session (graduate students)

OCR has asked the university to inform individuals attending focus groups and meetings that OCR will be taking notes on what is shared by participants. OCR will not, however, be identifying individuals by name or otherwise collecting the names of those who attend the focus groups. The information OCR collects is analyzed by authorized personnel within the agency and is used only for authorized civil rights compliance and enforcement activities.

Information collected by OCR is considered a government record and is subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). However, pursuant to the Privacy Act, OCR redacts or removes any personal identifying information before disclosing any records requested under FOIA.

If you are unable to come to a focus group or to a private meeting with OCR while they are on campus, the following OCR staff who will be visiting the campus are also available on an ongoing basis before and after their visit to speak on the telephone with you during their normal business hours. Please feel free to call or email any of them.

Linda Thomas, Equal Opportunity Specialist

Jacques Toliver, Attorney

Dannelle Walker, Attorney

Caroline LaguerreBrown
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Chief Diversity Officer

Kevin Shollenberger
Vice Provost for Student Affairs”


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