The U.S. Department of Education released its long-awaited final regulations governing campus sexual assault under Title IX.
Secretary Betsy DeVos said the new regulation will secure due process rights for both sides, by requiring colleges to provide live hearings and allowing students’ advisers to cross-examine parties and witnesses involved.
Under the new rules, institutions must presume that those accused of sexual misconduct are innocent prior to the investigation. At least three separate officials will have to carry out different steps of the Title IX complaint process.
The Education Department was met with a wave of criticism as soon as the regulations were published. Sage Carson, manager of Know Your IX, said the final rule ignores the thousands of comments submitted by survivors urging DeVos to rescind it.
Peter Lake, director of the Stetson University Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy, stated “A lot of people are going to be out of compliance for an entire academic year. The timing of this is really difficult for higher ed: late in the budget cycle, during a crisis and when they don’t have money.”
Other changes to current Title IX practices include:
Stalking, domestic violence and dating violence are now officially considered examples of sexual harassment under Title IX.
Title IX processes may be conducted virtually, and staff must be trained on relevant technology to conduct remote investigations and hearings.
Colleges are only obligated to respond to reports of sexual harassment that occurred off-campus if the location is in use by an officially recognized student or institution organization, such as recognized fraternity or sorority housing or athletic housing.
Colleges must train all personnel involved in the Title IX process and publish training materials on their websites.
Colleges and universities that receive federal funding must be in compliance with new rules by Aug. 14.