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Title IX

Notification of Title IX Complaint Frequently Asked Questions

Why did American University receive notification by the Office of Civil Rights of a Title IX complaint filed on June 23, 2016? 

On June 23, 2016, American University received notice of Title IX complaint from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR), alleging that the university failed to promptly and equitably respond to an April 2015 report of sexual assault of one student by another student.

An unrelated Title IX complaint was filed against AU on March 18, 2015 (OCR's inquiry into this complaint is ongoing). 

AU is committed to creating a campus community where students are aware of their rights under Title IX, are educated about sexual assault prevention and supported if they experience sexual misconduct of any kind. Over the last several years, AU has invested appreciable resources in its efforts to tackle the difficult and devastating issues surrounding sexual misconduct. The university will cooperate fully with OCR to ensure that responses to all violations under Title IX are prompt, understandable, thorough and fair.

Does this complaint mean AU did something wrong or illegal?

No. The university’s notification letter from the Office for Civil Rights states that:

"...opening the complaint for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination on the merits of the complaint. During the investigation, OCR is a neutral fact-finder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from the Complainant, the University, and other sources, as appropriate."

The U.S. Department of Education is currently reviewing 247 active cases with universities nationwide.

What is Title IX?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. Title IX states that:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity (such as housing, athletics and employment) receiving Federal financial assistance.

The U.S. Department of Education maintains an Office for Civil Rights, with 12 enforcement offices throughout the nation and a headquarters office in Washington, D.C., to enforce Title IX.

On April 4, 2011, the Department of Education issued a Dear Colleague Letter to schools, colleges, and universities to explain Title IX requirements pertaining to sexual harassment and sexual violence.

What rights do students have under Title IX?

AU's full time Title IX Program Officer is Heather Pratt and AU's Deputy Title IX Coordinator for students is Rob Hradsky. For more information, consult the University's Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy.

In addition to AU's resources, "Know Your IX" is a campaign that aims to educate all college students in the U.S. about their rights under Title IX. Visit the Know Your IX website for more information.

In addition to the website, here's one of their short videos that explains 9 things to know about Title IX.

How can I learn more information about AU policies, procedures and resources?

This information may be found at the following websites:

Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Policy

Sexual Violence Procedures for Students

Sexual Violence Resources

Office of Advocacy Services for Interpersonal and Sexual Violence (OASIS)

How is campus crime information collected and addressed?

American University is required by federal law to publish timely warnings about crimes that occur on or near campus and may pose a threat to students, staff, and faculty. These warnings are posted on shuttle buses and bulletin boards across campus, and crime information can be found on the Public Safety website under the Campus Safety tab and in the Annual Security Report.

What does Public Safety do to help educate the AU community about crime prevention?

While it is the responsibility of each member of Public Safety to promote crime prevention throughout the university community, the crime prevention coordinator is specifically responsible for implementing Public Safety’s proactive stance on crime prevention as part of its basic philosophy. To help students and employees protect themselves and their property, this unit develops and makes available to the university community a variety of educational programs and materials. More details can be found on the Public Safety website.

Does AU have a full time Title IX Coordinator?

Yes. Heather Pratt joined American University as full time Title IX program officer on December 1, 2015. 

Recognizing the value of a Title IX Officer dedicated to the responsibilities on a full time basis, AU’s Board of Trustees approved a budget that included funding for this position on March 6, 2015, along with funds to support additional training on interpersonal violence. 

How will the AU community be informed about the process and future updates regarding the Title IX complaint?

We will provide timely updates as they occur.

The AU community may email inquiries to the Office of Campus Life at or see our list of Title IX contacts.

Also, the public may contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights directly for additional information.