Boston University, founded in 1839, is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States, with eight Nobel Laureates, 23 Pulitzer Prize winners, and numerous other notable award-winners. If you're attending the school, you have probably worked incredibly hard to get there, which makes allegations of sexual misconduct all the more damaging and concerning. Whether you are a student or the parent of a student, you've input many years and significant financial investment. Sexual misconduct allegations can derail all of that effort and investment, impacting not only your life today, but also your future potential. It's critical that if you're facing these allegations, you find an attorney-advisor who can assist you in championing your rights.
College Sexual Misconduct or Title IX?
On August 14, 2020, Boston University issued a new sexual misconduct policy to replace the previous Sexual Misconduct/Title IX policy. They updated their policy in response to the Department of Education's new guidance for Title IX regulations. Betsy DeVos's Department of Education updated the guidance as a means to address the many due process concerns that surrounded the regulations after the Obama Administration's “Dear Colleague Letter” guidance in 2011. The 2020 updated guidelines
BU Today covered the updates, noting that the provost, Jean Morrison, sent a letter to the BU community stating that the university would “make all of the changes required by the new law, and … continue to work toward reducing the rate of sexual misconduct in the University community through both prevention efforts and vigorous enforcement of its Sexual Misconduct/Title IX Policy.” In circumstances where an alleged behavior falls under both the Sexual Misconduct and the Title IX policies, the procedures will follow the Title IX guidelines.
There are many changes to the Title IX regulations, but some of the key ones were:
- Mandating that each party has an advisor at the hearing to conduct cross-examination;
- Requiring live hearings for all cases that fall under Title IX;
- Narrowing both the definition of sexual harassment that falls under Title IX, and the geographic scope of what is covered.
- The ability for a university to use either the “preponderance of the evidence” standard or to use the “clear and convincing” standard.
The clear and convincing standard requires a higher burden of evidence than the preponderance of evidence standard. Boston University will continue to use the preponderance of evidence as the standard for all hearings, whether the alleged conduct occurs under Title IX or under the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Boston University's Sexual Misconduct Policy
Boston University's new Sexual Misconduct Policy classifies all sexual misconduct at the school into one of two categories: sexual misconduct covered by Title IX and general sexual misconduct.
Although there is a lot of similarity between what is covered underneath each section of the policy, there are some key differences between the two beyond the changes listed above.
First, for instances of sexual harassment, the Title IX guidelines state it is: “Unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would determine to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University's education program or activity.” In contrast, under non-Title IX sexual misconduct, sexual harassment includes: “ Unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that has the effect of creating a hostile or stressful living, learning, or working environment, or whenever toleration of such conduct or rejection of it is the basis for an academic or employment decision affecting an individual. Conduct is considered “unwelcome” if the person did not request or invite it and considered the conduct to be undesirable or offensive.”
In this example, the definition is much broader for the general sexual misconduct guidelines. In fact, the Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct portion of the policy begins by saying, “Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct” is a broad, non-legal term that encompasses a wide range of behaviors that are prohibited by this Policy or federal and state law, including but not limited to, sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, acquaintance rape, stalking, and relationship violence (including dating and domestic violence). Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct includes conduct occurring both on-campus and off-campus if the conduct was in connection with a University or University-recognized education program or activity, or if the conduct may have the effect of creating a hostile environment for a member of the BU community.”
What about the procedure for an investigation and a hearing? The procedure for sexual misconduct complaints will vary, depending on whether it falls under the Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct or the Title IX Sexual Misconduct. Some of the components are the same, such as BU will attempt to resolve both types of investigations within 90 calendar days.
What are You Risking?
If Boston University determines that the preponderance of evidence is such that it is more likely than not that you or your loved one committed the alleged actions, your future will suffer. Often, the sanctions include suspension or expulsion, with a notation on your permanent academic record. This notation can impact your ability to apply to medical school, law school, or any other graduate studies. Additionally, if you are receiving any financial aid, a change in your student status might result in the loss of financial awards. Subsequently, your ability to attend school could change, or your future financial stability, if you have to take out private student loans or be responsible for the cost without any student loan assistance. Sexual misconduct allegations also affect your reputation and
Best University Sexual Misconduct Attorney-Advisor
When it's time to face sexual misconduct allegations, having an expert in school proceedings by your side can make all the difference. You want an attorney-advisor with knowledge of how the disciplinary proceedings take place, who understands the distinction between Title IX and sexual misconduct policies, and a passion for clients' rights. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have unparalleled experience defending students from allegations of college sexual misconduct. They understand how to work on the behalf of their clients' best interests and have a strong commitment to the due process that everyone deserves. Call 888.535.3686 to learn more about how they can assist you during this challenging time. If you prefer online communication first, you can reach out here.