Amendments to Title IX's enforcement mechanism may alter the power of colleges to hear allegations of sexual harassment involving off-campus conduct. However, there are drafting errors in the amendments that make it impossible to tell until they are resolved or the Department of Education offers guidance.
Until that happens, an important question to ponder is just how big of a deal it would be to keep schools limited to enforcing Title IX on their campuses or in their college activities. One important factor to consider is how many college students live off-campus, compared to those living in the dormitories or college-maintained apartments.
How Many College Students Live Off-Campus?
Unfortunately, the percentage of college students who live on-campus or off-campus depends largely on the particular school they attend.
Some schools are “commuter schools” that do not even have any dormitories on their premises. Most of these are the satellite campuses for major public schools, like Pennsylvania State University's campuses in Fayette, Wilkes-Barre, and York. However, there are some major universities that do not provide much dormitory space for their student body, leaving them to look for apartments off-campus. Most of these are in metropolitan areas where the costs of real estate are high and there is little room for a college to expand to house increasing student bodies. For example, Temple University, in Philadelphia, has an undergraduate enrollment of nearly 30,000, but only 6% of them live in housing owned or operated by the school.
On the other hand, some colleges offer plenty of on-campus housing, and many others require first-year students to live in it. Other schools have robust college cultures that attract many students to live on campus or are so isolated that there are few other options. Examples in Pennsylvania include:
- Gettysburg College, where 93% of students live on-campus
- Ursinus College, which houses 95% of the student body on-campus
- Lafayette College, with on-campus accommodations house 92% of the student body
- Allegheny College, where 9 in 10 students live on-campus
Why This Matters for a School's Title IX Jurisdiction
Where a college's students live is a big deal for a school's Title IX jurisdiction: Most allegations of sexual misconduct that impact a student's college experience are going to happen in areas where students congregate and where they live. If the amendments to the federal Title IX enforcement structure prohibit colleges from enforcing the provisions of their codes of conduct that relate to sexual misconduct beyond their borders, it could impact some schools far more than others. Schools like Gettysburg College are unlikely to experience much of a change, as the vast majority of their students live on campus. Temple University, on the other hand, would find that most allegations of sexual misconduct and Title IX violations fall outside their jurisdiction.
Joseph D. Lento: A National Title IX Defense Lawyer
Joseph D. Lento is a national Title IX defense lawyer who represents students accused of sexual misconduct in the higher education setting. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686 for the legal guidance you need.