A federal judge dismissed a Title IX lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin alleging the university did not respond to incidents of sexual harassment and assault at a pre-college summer university program.
Federal judge William Conley reached a decision filed July 17, ruling in favor of UW and concluding the plaintiff could not fully prove the university failed to respond to these reports.
Filed in 2019, the suit alleged multiple reports of sexual harassment and assault against female participants in the Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Experience.
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The program’s handbook states PEOPLE is a college prep scholarship program designed for students of color and low-income students, most of whom are the first in their families to potentially attend college. The goal of the program is to prepare students for attending college within the UW System, with an emphasis on attending UW-Madison.
The plaintiff referred to in the suit as “Jane Doe,” claimed the “Board of Regents for the University of Wisconsin System’s failure to respond adequately to [the accused’s] past harassment of other students effectively deprived Doe of educational opportunities in violation of Title IX.”
The lawsuit states in the summer of 2018, PEOPLE participants attended a field trip where a participant, referred to in the suit as “M,” sexually harassed and groped the plaintiff in a pool. Doe also reported M restrained and jumped on top of her on a friend’s dorm room bed.
UW suspended M from PEOPLE’s summer university program after Doe complained to university staff.
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The following year, the university also removed Doe from the program due to her grades dropping below the grade point average needed to remain a participant. In her statement, Doe claims this slip in academics was attributed to the emotional trauma of M’s misconduct.
In his ruling, Conley stated the jury could not find that the defendant was deliberately indifferent to M’s known misconduct.
UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone said in an email statement to The Badger Herald the university aims to continue to support sexual misconduct survivors.
“We are gratified that the court agreed there was no violation of Title IX. We remain committed … to responding promptly and fairly to allegations of sexual misconduct,” McGlone said.