University of Hawaii vows improvements on sexual harassment

HONOLULU (AP) — The University of Hawaii at Manoa failed to fully comply with federal law when handling student reports of sexual harassment and assault, according to a federal review.

The university on Friday announced it had reached a voluntary resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, promising to improve its procedures, organizational structure and resources.


The department’s Office for Civil Rights had examined the university’s Title IX compliance involving sexual harassment or violence, covering cases from 2010 to 2016.

In its report, the office highlighted a case where the university failed to adequately respond to a complaint of a student, who reported she was raped by another student.

The university had banned the suspected student from campus housing while it conducted an investigation, which lasted 159 days. However, the university failed to enforce the ban, according to the report.

The student under investigation was later kicked out of the university, but the report stated the failure to enforce the ban caused a hostile environment for the victim.

The office also found the school may have failed to promptly investigate cases as investigations lasted anywhere between 49 and more than 100 days.

The university said it has already taken action to address most of the items outlined in the agreement.

“We have made tremendous strides, and the federal review guided much of that work along the way,” university President David Lassner said in a statement. “But it is an ongoing process, and ultimately, this is not just about being compliant, but doing what’s right for our community to create a campus environment that is safe for all.”


The university has created an Office of Institutional Equity to oversee compliance across all of its campuses.

It has also conducted staff trainings and updated its policies on sexual harassment and violence.

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