The Master’s University demonstrates failure to report sexual assault under Clery ActMai Nguyen Do September 19, 2018 3 Comments
After an accreditation team visited The Master’s University to review its practices in March of this year, the team compiled a report stating that the university was again in violation of required reporting responsibilities under the Clery Act and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
The Clery Act mandates all schools receiving Title IV, Higher Education Act federal financial assistance report crimes, including sexual assaults, that occur on and off campus.
The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) team’s report is not the first time the university has come under scrutiny for issues complying with federal laws regarding sexual assault. The Master’s College and Seminary － The Master’s University’s previous title － was also found in violation of the Clery Act in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Education.
A 2013 study conducted by a Cornell University researcher analyzed Clery Act data from the Department of Education to rank and evaluate institutions based on sexual assault reporting.
The Master’s College and Seminary was ranked within the last bracket of the study’s benchmarks.
Using standard public health measures, the study estimated the occurrence of about 34.96 assaults on The Master’s College and Seminary campus in 2013. The school reported zero, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
The study was repeated again using 2014 data. The Master’s College and Seminary was expected to report 40.03 sexual assaults. The college again reported none to the U.S. Department of Education.
Between 2014 and 2016 － the most recent year that Clery Act data is available － no reports of rape or sexual assault were filed with the U.S. Department of Education.
The year after, the U.S. Department of Education issued a Final Program Review Determination (FPRD) on July 6, 2015, which confirmed several instances of noncompliance with the Clery Act’s provisions during 2014. The school “had an incomplete statement of policy regarding the institution’s campus sexual assault programs,” an “incomplete description of procedures to follow when a sex offense occurs” and failed to develop “procedures for campus disciplinary action in cases of an alleged sex offense,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.
“The exceptions identified above constitute serious violations of the Clery Act that by their nature cannot be cured,” the U.S. Department of Education said. “There is no way to truly ‘correct’ a violation of this type once it occurs.”
According to the FPRD, as of 2014, the school had not updated its sexual assault policies to maintain the standard required by the VAWA.
The Master’s University’s academic accreditation with the WASC was recently placed on probation after their report found that the school was not in compliance with federal guidelines for higher education, The Signal reported.
“As a result of inquiry by the visiting team and panel prompted by Third Party Complaints to the Commission, the Commission is concerned about the institution’s attention to the requirements of the Clery Act and the Violence Against Women’s Act,” wrote commission president Jamienne Studley.
When asked by the visiting team, the university’s Chief Operating Officer was unaware of the Clery Act or the VAWA, according to the report.
“It’s important that students and faculty are provided those disclosures and are made aware of resources they can use so that they feel safe,” a spokesperson for the nonprofit Clery Center said. “Compliance with the Clery Act provides that security.”
At the first chapel of the semester on August 27, The Master’s University president John MacArthur addressed the student congregation, discrediting findings in the accreditation team’s report as “untrue.” He went on to discuss the work the school has accomplished in improving its administration over the past few years.
“The measures indicate that everything we did worked out phenomenally well,” MacArthur said during his address.
When asked about who Master’s students should speak with regarding issues of rape or assault on campus, a spokesperson for WASC said that “students and other campus community members with specific questions at this time should contact the U.S. Department of Education.”
The spokesperson did not say whether students with concerns should contact Master’s officials.
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Mai Nguyen Do is a Vietnamese American poet and researcher. She is a lifelong Santa Clarita resident and a College of the Canyons graduate. She is also the author of Ghosts Still Walking (2016) and Battlefield Blooming (2019). Find her on Twitter @DoNguyenMai.