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WSU among schools facing investigation

WSU among schools facing investigation

SPOKANE, Wash. - Washington State University is one of 55 colleges that the Education Department has identified as currently facing a Title IX investigation over the handling of sexual abuse complaints.

The Pullman-based university was named Thursday, as was the University of Idaho in neighboring Moscow.

Washington State officials say that in January of 2013 they received notice from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights that OCR had received a complaint alleging the university failed to adequately respond to allegations of sexual harassment. That included incidents of sexual assault.

WSU claims they don't know the specifics about the allegations against them and that they are somewhat in the dark but are cooperating with the investigation.

It's dead week on campus, and allegations the university might have mishandled sexual abuse complaints doesn't sit well with students.          

"Hearing that my school is actually handling it in the wrong way kind of frustrates me, but it's not surprising," WSU student Dani Kaminski said.

"Just knowing there could be some misconduct on their part is a little bit scary," WSU student Allison Thomas said.

WSU said there are no findings of wrongdoing on their part but admit that sexual violence does happen on campus. In fact, in a one year period about 8-percent of WSU students experience sexual violence, from attempted sexual assault to rape.

"We want to get to a place where we are not waiting for violence to happen and then responding to it, we want to get to a place where it's not happening," Nikki Finnestead with Green Dot said.

Green Dot is helping curb violence on campus. Every year, they meet with the roughly 5,000 incoming freshmen.

"We talk about the resources available to anyone impacted by violence, we start to have that conservation about what it means to be a bystander," Finnestead said.

It should be made clear even though WSU and U of I are on the list it doesn't mean they have violated the law. The Department of Education said they are releasing the names for the first time to be more transparent and spark conversation about the issue.

Officials for Washington State say there has been no finding of any wrongdoing on the part of the school.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.