Administrators at a large Texas, religious university talked about Title IX issues and LGBTQ rights in a retreat in Dallas. From news reports of the discussions, though, it seems like what they learned may already be out of date.
Baylor University Administrators Learn About Title IX
The school administrators, including several members of the school's Board of Regents, came from Baylor University, a school in Waco, Texas, of more than 15,000. At a two-day retreat in Dallas in mid-July, they met with experts in Title IX law and the college experience for people who identify in the LGBTQ range.
On the gender identity and orientation front, the administrators discussed the recent confrontation with students over the school's refusal to recognize a student group for LGBTQ students.
On the Title IX front, though, administrators were brought up to speed on the state of Title IX law and what it requires of schools and universities conducting sexual misconduct on campus. However, according to news reports of the retreat by the Waco Tribune-Herald, what the school administrators learned is already out of date.
More Confusion About Cross-Examination and Due Process
According to the news report, the administrators from Baylor University talked with a Title IX expert who mentioned how colleges had to investigate and hear complaints of sexual assaults and gender discrimination. Among the things that Baylor President Linda Livingstone said she learned during the retreat was that changes to federal Title IX laws “could involve” interactions between the accuser and the accused.
If those interactions include cross-examination, then what President Livingstone learned is already out-of-date. The opportunity to cross-examine the accusing student is already a requirement in Title IX allegations that hinge on the credibility of the accuser and the accused – as most Title IX cases do. That was what the Sixth Circuit ruled in the seminal Title IX case, Doe v. Baum: Students accused of sexual misconduct have a due process right to confront their accuser and cross-examine them.
Stretching the Idea of Cross-Examination
What seems clear from news about the Baylor administrators' retreat, though, is that schools are interested in stretching the limits of what constitutes a “cross-examination.”
According to President Livingstone, “There are other methods for that cross-examination that could be done via video conference or in written form.” Whether she's right is not clear – the federal appellate court in Doe v. Baum didn't mention non-traditional forms of cross-examination. It seems very unlikely that only allowing students accused of sexual misconduct to cross-examine written statements by their accuser would fail the test, though.
What is likely is that schools like Baylor try whatever they can to cater to the feelings of their students, even if it means not employing the best technique there is to get to the bottom of what happened.
Title IX Defense Lawyer and Advisor Joseph D. Lento
Joseph D. Lento is a national Title IX advisor and a defense lawyer who represents students, faculty, and college staff accused of sexual misconduct. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686 for legal guidance in this uncertain legal landscape.