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How a Little-known Education Office has Forced Far-Reaching Changes to Campus Sex Assault Investigations

With a strong mandate from President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, the office’s lawyers have redefined campus sexual assault as a federal civil rights issue, changed the standard by which allegations must be judged and publicized the names of a growing number of schools under investigation for allegedly failing to respond properly to complaints of sexual misconduct. “This is the first administration to call sexual violence a civil rights issue,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, a former ACLU lawyer in Los Angeles who, as assistant secretary of Education, heads the Office for Civil Rights and has brought the style of an aggressive litigator to the once-staid education post.