Title IX prohibits university education programs and activities that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex. While regulations related to Title IX programs have existed since the law’s passage in 1972, these rules are receiving a complete overhaul under a new proposal introduced by the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. One of the more significant changes affects the way a university or college deals with its investigation of off campus sexual abuse.
Under the new regulations, a school is required to investigate a student’s report of sexual misconduct occurring off campus only if the student is at a campus-sanctioned event or activity. Off campus Greek housing for sororities and fraternities is defined in the proposed regulation as a school-sanctioned activity and would not be exempt from the mandate to investigate all sexual conduct reports.
Campus-sanctioned events or activities include situations where:
Although not specifically set forth in the proposed regulations, experts believe study abroad programs and professional internship programs connected to a university also would fall under the category of campus-sanctioned.
The proposed regulations could result in some incidents of sexual misconduct occurring off campus, affecting on-campus learning or creating a hostile learning environment, but will not qualify as a Title IX issue. Although colleges are not required to investigate off campus incidents, colleges are not prohibited from investigating incidents involving students that occur off campus. Many higher education organizations believe universities will continue to extend student disciplinary codes and student-conduct proceedings to apply to off-campus incidents.
According to Secretary DeVos, the new regulations have been designed to ensure a fair grievance process that protects victims of sexual abuse while allowing students accused of sexual misconduct to defend themselves without a predetermination of guilt. The new regulations set forth the presumption that the accused is innocent until proven guilty and gives the accused the right to cross-examine their accuser and participate in a live hearing. To ensure impartiality in investigations, schools may no longer rely on single investigators in responding to sexual misconduct complaints.
To support campus sexual abuse victims, universities would be required to provide counseling, leaves of absence, and no-contact orders for students recovering from sexual abuse. Many victims’ rights organizations, including the Victim Rights Law Center, fear the new regulations will result in fewer sexual misconduct victims coming forward.
If you or someone you know has suffered sexual abuse, help is available. With offices conveniently located in Wilmington and Georgetown, Delaware, the experienced Georgetown sexual abuse lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. proudly represent victims of sexual abuse throughout the state, including those in Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County. To schedule a free consultation today, call us at 302-656-5445 or contact us online.