New Title IX regulations give more rights to those accused of sexual assault

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' new Title IX rule moves forward and will take effect Friday, Aug. 14 after a federal judged refused a multi-state effort to strike it down.

Attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia brought the lawsuit challenging DeVos’ policy change mandating how schools respond to reports of sexual misconduct.

"Every survivor of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously. Every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not pre-determined,” said DeVos. “One aggressive act of harassment is too many. One person denied due process is one too many. This conversation may be uncomfortable, but we must have it. It is our moral obligation to get this right.”

The Department of Education released the new regulations in May. Main changes in the regulations include:

-Schools can longer try sexual misconduct cases occurring off-campus or during study abroad trips

-Cross-examination by advisors or attorneys

-Universities must provide an option for informal resolution

-Schools will still have an option to use the "preponderance of evidence" standard or raise it to "clear and convincing evidence"

-A more narrow definition for sexual harassment, defined as “conduct that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to education,” which includes sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking.

It also includes quid pro quo harassment, in other words, providing opportunities for job advancement if a person submits to unwelcome sexual advances.


Key provisions of the Department of Education's new Title IX regulation:

  • Defines sexual harassment to include sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, as unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex

  • Provides a consistent, legally sound framework on which survivors, the accused, and schools can rely

  • Requires schools to offer clear, accessible options for any person to report sexual harassment

  • Empowers survivors to make decisions about how a school responds to incidents of sexual harassment

  • Requires the school to offer survivors supportive measures, such as class or dorm reassignments or no-contact orders

  • Protects K-12 students by requiring elementary and secondary schools to respond promptly when any school employee has notice of sexual harassment

  • Holds colleges responsible for off-campus sexual harassment at houses owned or under the control of school-sanctioned fraternities and sororities

  • Restores fairness on college and university campuses by upholding all students' right to written notice of allegations, the right to an advisor, and the right to submit, cross-examine, and challenge evidence at a live hearing

  • Shields survivors from having to come face-to-face with the accused during a hearing and from answering questions posed personally by the accused

  • Requires schools to select one of two standards of evidence, the preponderance of the evidence standard or the clear and convincing evidence standard – and to apply the selected standard evenly to proceedings for all students and employees, including faculty

  • Provides "rape shield" protections and ensures survivors are not required to divulge any medical, psychological, or similar privileged records

  • Requires schools to offer an equal right of appeal for both parties to a Title IX proceeding

  • Gives schools flexibility to use technology to conduct Title IX investigations and hearings remotely

  • Protects students and faculty by prohibiting schools from using Title IX in a manner that deprives students and faculty of rights guaranteed by the First Amendment

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