POLICY UPDATE: Title IX Guidance

POLICY UPDATE: Title IX Guidance

This afternoon, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos gave what the U.S. Department of Education called a “major policy address on Title IX enforcement.” In it, she said that the Department would open up a notice-and-comment period to replace the existing 2011 Title IX guidance. During the address she acknowledged the “good intentions” of the previous administration but said they attempted to “weaponize the Office for Civil Rights.” We disagree with this assertion.

The advancements over the last six years fueled a national conversation on campus sexual assault. Clery Center is committed to continuing the conversation and challenging efforts to dismantle the work. We believe that all students, faculty, and staff deserve the right to an environment free from harassment and discrimination. Higher education is a leader in preventing and responding to sexual violence on college and university campuses, largely in part to the federal laws guiding these efforts, including Title IX and the Clery Act.

In April 2011, Vice President Biden addressed a crowd at University of New Hampshire to present the sub-regulatory guidance for college and university campuses (and high schools) that is now up for review. This guidance clarifies the letter and intent of Title IX regulations when responding to sexual harassment and assault at K-12 institutions and colleges. Much of the 2011 guidance reinforced 2001 guidance from the Bush Administration that called for a prompt and equitable campus response to sex discrimination, including sexual harassment.

Contrary to its critics, the Title IX guidance does not create rights for victims at the expense of rights for the accused; anything other than a fair process is out of compliance and does not benefit anyone involved.

We are committed to working collaboratively with the Department of Education to address the problem of campus sexual assault. In our comments, we’ll remind the Department of the commonality of requirements under the Clery Act and Title IX but reinforce that the goals of Title IX as a civil rights law and Clery Act as a consumer protection law will not be well-served by compromising either.

We must preserve the civil rights (Title IX) of those in K-12 and higher education institutions while also promoting transparency and crime prevention through higher education consumer protection law (Clery Act). We will continue our commitment to working with colleges and universities on compliance with federal law with the end goal of developing campus environments rooted in care for the campus community.

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