Clery Center Statement in Response to New Title IX Regulations

Clery Center Statement in Response to New Title IX Regulations

Last week, amid ongoing concerns in the higher education community about COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Education released updated regulations for Title IX; regulations that have been in the making since 2017. 

The new regulations note they received 124,000 comments in response to the Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (NPRM), including Clery Center’s. This number alone demonstrates the significance of these regulations and the lives they will impact for years to come. This includes, first and foremost, the impact on the lives of survivors of harassment and assault, who experience consequences far beyond equal access to education.  As stated in the preamble, “Commenters told the Department that rape and sexual assault, in particular, changed their lives forever, and has severe consequences emotionally, physically, academically, and professionally.” (p 107) It is with this knowledge that we remain, as we were when reading the NPRM, deeply troubled by many elements in the regulations which will not only lead to a decrease in students seeking support and justice at their institutions, but will exacerbate these severe consequences. These regulations disingenuously seek alignment with the Clery Act in order to justify adversarial measures that further complicate disciplinary procedures intended to counter hostile or abusive educational environments.

As we continue to work through reading and interpreting the new Title IX regulations, we do so with disappointment and dismay at the expectation that institutions of higher education are expected to implement any procedural changes within three month’s time, while in the midst of responding to a global pandemic. In comparison, section 304 of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act — the most recent amendments affecting the Clery Act, also focused on dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking — gave institutions an implementation period three times as long. Regardless of our disagreement with aspects of the regulations, our expertise in helping schools develop and implement critical policies required under the Clery Act tells us that any changes of this magnitude require thoughtful consideration, training, and collaboration in order to be implemented with the fairness and equity the Department claims to value above all else. 

We at Clery Center remain committed to supporting schools in creating safer campus communities and we continue to believe in upholding the spirit of the Clery Act. It is our hope, which is reflected in our training and education programs, that colleges and universities will remain dedicated to supporting survivors, keeping resources accessible to those who need them, and viewing compliance with both the Clery Act and Title IX as an institutional responsibility and the blueprint for changing the culture around campus safety.

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