US Federal authorities are conducting 300 simultaneous investigations into how colleges handle sexual assault under Title IX legislation.
The Office for Civil Rights opened the 300th active case this week, part of an ever-expanding quest to impose systems for dealing with sex assault claims on colleges.
The milestone was recorded by the Title IX Tracker tool, run by the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Their tool has recorded the growth of the project, which aims to force colleges – rather than law enforcement – to deal with students’ complaints of sexual assault.
In 2014, when figures were first made public, 55 colleges were under investigation – a number which has increased more than fivefold in two and a half years.
Critics of Title IX say that it forces college to intrude into the lives of their students, operating a secretive, quasi-judicial system which is capable of making the wrong call.
Title IX itself is a law from the 70s which outlawed sexual discrimination of all kinds when accessing education.
But the Obama White House made it a priority to foreground the interpretation that the law means institutions must protect students from sexual assault, and implement their own bureaucracy to investigate complaints and dole out punishments.
Colleges which do not comply can be denied public funding and be pursued by the Department of Justice.
The Office for Civil Rights now spends $100million a year investigating colleges.
In total it has opened 358 cases, and resolved 58, leaving it with a workload expanding far faster than it can be dealt with. At current levels of funding, each investigation costs just over $330,000.
It is unclear what impact the incoming Trump administration will have on the department’s activities.
The US enforcement regime has had ramifications in other countries as well.
In the UK, universities are bringing in a comparable system of home-grown investigations which could see offenders expelled from their institutions on a much lower standard of proof than for a criminal offence.