Most parents have some familiarity with what’s commonly referred to as Title IX. It’s the federal law that addresses discrimination based on gender in education, but it also covers how accusations of sexual misconduct are investigated by colleges and universities.
The Biden administration has proposed a number of changes to the law via what’s called a “draft rule.” That means there’s a period where public feedback is allowed before the final rule is issued – and there has been plenty.
One of the areas addressed in the draft rule is sexual harassment on college campuses. During the previous administration, the Department of Education (ED) made a number of changes that critics saw as favoring those accused of misconduct and leaving victims with fewer rights. The current proposals would roll back some of those changes and, supporters say, restore some balance.
Do the proposed changes remove due process?
Those speaking out against the proposed changes say they take away due process from those who are facing accusations of sexual harassment. Note that under the proposed rule, the definition of sexual harassment would be broadened to include “unwelcome sex-based conduct that creates a hostile environment by denying or limiting a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from a school’s education program or activity.” This would include verbal harassment.
Those who are troubled about lack of due process point to the proposed change that would no longer require colleges to hold hearings for these cases unless they’re required by state law. Instead, they could choose to use what’s called the “single-investigator model.” With this, a school official investigates the accusation and decides the outcome.
Allegations of off-campus misconduct must also be investigated
Another proposed change would require colleges to investigate accusations of sexual misconduct by one student of another even if the alleged misconduct occurred off-campus. Further, colleges would no longer need someone to make a formal complaint to investigate an alleged incident.
It will be some time before any of these changes go into effect. Further, schools and states can enact their own regulations, to some degree. If your college student has been accused of sexual misconduct, it’s crucial to take the matter seriously and seek legal guidance for them. This can help protect their rights and their future.