The University is bringing in outside legal experts to review its Title IX procedures, according to a University release Monday.
The review aims to ensure officials prevent and eliminate sex-based discrimination in the University’s programs and activities – including sexual harassment and sexual violence – which is banned under the federal Title IX civil rights law, according to the release.
The Philadelphia-based law firm Cozen O’Connor will conduct the review. Members of the firm will meet with students and other members of the GW community, according to the release.
The release did not say what specifically the review would focus on.
The moves comes after the University’s sexual assault case procedure came under fire after Aniqa Raihan, a sexual assault survivor who graduated in May, started an online campaign to expel her assailant claiming officials mishandled her case. The assailant received a deferred suspension after being found responsible for sexual violence by a University hearing board, a punishment less than what is recommended by the code of conduct.
The student was also allowed to keep his student manager job at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center, setting off campus protests including at the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences commencement ceremony, where Raihan and other demonstrators held a banner that read “GW Protects Rapists” as the assailant’s name was called.
After the petition and the protests, officials said a “concerning” narrative was emerging that GW is slow to respond to sexual assault cases. Officials announced a review of the sexual assault case process and an examination of ways to improve transparency and communication about the issue.
The Title IX office has also been plagued by turnover in recent years. A series of high-profile resignations left Title IX Coordinator Rory Muhammad as the office’s only full-time, permanent staffer.
Caroline Laguerre-Brown, vice provost for diversity, equity and community engagement, said the University regularly reviews its Title IX procedures and that any changes to the program will be announced over the course of the next academic year.
“Cozen O’Connor’s Institutional Response Group has important experience working with institutions like ours and will assist us by reviewing our procedures with a fresh set of eyes,” she said in the release.