Title IX recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. I’ve noticed it has become a hot topic in the media and among a number of campus officials nationally. Much is changing on this front and I believe the number of Title IX non-compliance complaints will continue to grow unless colleges review their policies, procedures and practices for alignment with the law ASAP and learn from their peers’ experiences.
To put the magnitude of this growing crisis into context, The Chronicle reported “The Education Department is now investigating sexual misconduct at more than two dozen colleges under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination at institutions that receive federal funds.”
If you are looking for a starter list (and only a starter list) of what steps you can/should consider taking and where can you get more information:
- Start with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights’ FAQs page and sexual harassment resources.
- Read about the steps the University of Montana put in place after a Department of Justice Title IX investigation. Their response has been described by the DOJ as a blueprint for sexual assault response and merits your time. They now have programs in place that have been labeled as the industry standard by the DOJ including mandatory campus training to raise awareness of a healthy campus climate and educate the community on ways to prevent sexual assault.
- In addition, a website recently launched that you should know about. It’s named Know Your IX and its goals are to provide information and resources about Title IX to college students, delineating their rights and how to report potential noncompliance. Students are learning of their rights—as higher education leaders we need to ensure we are protecting and defending those rights. The following video gives an overview of the campaign’s efforts and goals.
- Today Inside Higher Ed has a story about two men accused of rape who filed separate Title IX lawsuits against institutions “alleging that administrators violated their due process by mishandling the investigations and campus judicial proceedings that led to their expulsion and withdrawal.” The landscape of what is considered a Title IX offense is growing.
- Also know there is growing participation in groups that defend the procedural rights of males accused of sexual assault. Title IX protects students from gender-based discrimination and that protection includes males. Ensure your processes are in compliance for the treatment of all parties.
- Check if your policies and procedures apply to all students, regardless of gender/sex/sexual orientation, who may be victims of sexual assault.
- If you’re up for a comprehensive breakdown of Title IX, consider reading a copy of the Department of Justice’s legal manual on the law.
- And, if you are interested in free resources, visit United Educators to read up on preventing harassment.
Rather than waiting to react to a Title IX investigation, be proactive and update campus language and approaches for dealing with allegations of sexual assault. After reading the news this summer you can’t say you haven’t been warned.