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The U.S. Coast Guard Academy Must Take Additional Steps to Better Address Allegations of Race-Based Harassment and Prevent Such Harassment on Campus

Executive Summary

We identified 16 allegations of race-based harassment involving cadets between 2013 and 2018 that the Coast Guard Academy (the Academy) was aware of and had sufficient information to investigate and address through internal hate and harassment procedures.  The OIG identified issues in how the Academy addressed 11 of them.  First, in six incidents, the Academy did not thoroughly investigate the allegations, and/or did not discipline cadets when investigations documented violations of cadet regulations or Coast Guard policy.  In two of these instances, cadets committed similar misconduct again.  The Academy also did not fully include civil rights staff as required in six instances (including two of the instances noted previously).  Therefore, civil rights staff could not properly track these incidents to proactively identify trends and offer the Academy assistance.  In addition, in one incident involving a potential hate allegation, the Academy did not follow the Coast Guard process for hate incidents.  Finally, our review determined that race-based harassment is underreported at the Academy for various reasons, including concerns about negative consequences for reporting allegations.  Underreporting is especially concerning because our questionnaire results and interviews indicate harassing behaviors continue at the Academy.  We made five recommendations that will enhance the Academy’s ability to address harassment and hate allegations, including ensuring the Academy consistently investigates allegations, requiring the reasons for disciplinary decisions be documented after race- or ethnicity-based harassment investigations, informing civil rights staff of all misconduct that could reasonably relate to race or ethnicity; and improving training related to preventing and addressing race-based or ethnicity-based harassment or hate incidents.  The Coast Guard concurred with all recommendations

Report Number
OIG-20-36
Issue Date
Document File
DHS Agency
Oversight Area
Fiscal Year
2020

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