The Trump Administration, headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has proposed a draft version of new policies on college sexual misconduct. The long-awaited unofficial plans come after years of deliberation. According to an article by the New York Times, the policies are intended to strengthen the rights of students accused of sexual assault, rape, or harassment, minimize the liability of higher education institutions in misconduct cases and coax colleges and universities to provide more support for alleged victims.
Here's a breakdown of some of the most impactful new Title IX policies.
Reporting to officials
Under the new guidelines, alleged victims or any other person who is planning on bringing a complaint must report the incident to an official with the authority to institute corrective measures. It is then, and only then when the institution will be legally accountable for the complaint. At this point, a complainant has wide discretion as to what they can do next, whether it be to start mediation, drop the complaint, or initiate the Title IX resolution process.
It isn't clear at the moment which campus administrators would qualify as officials with this kind of authority. All that is clear is that if a student reports the incident to someone who isn't a designated official, the university isn't obligated to resolve the complaint. This mandate is strikingly different from rules imposed under Obama-era guidelines, where a school was bestowed the responsibility of investigating if the institution knew, or should have reasonably known, about the allegation.
On and off campus incidents
The new policies suggest that if an incident of sexual misconduct occurs off campus, it falls outside of the school's jurisdiction, and therefore cannot be pursued or resolved by said school. Areas that fall outside of school jurisdiction would include off-campus housing, off-campus fraternity houses, and local bars and restaurants. This rule majorly contrasts the rules under the Obama administration, which dictates that schools are to investigate any allegations of alleged sexual misconduct that occurred between two students, regardless of where the incident occurred.
Many incidents of campus sexual misconduct occur off-campus since a large number of U.S. college students live outside campus bounds. Additionally, accusers and the accused at community colleges - which generally don't have campus housing - will also be affected by this clause.
Once officially released, the proposed guidelines will have to endure a lengthy process before they're approved for implementation. But if the Trump Administration's policies remain consistent with last year's interim guidance and the proposed regulations released last week, they could drastically transform the landscape of sexual assault adjudication processes on campuses as we know it.
Nationwide Title IX Advisor
The only way to make sure your voice is heard and your rights are upheld is to retain a student defense attorney. For respondents, especially, the assistance of an attorney advisor is invaluable in the Title IX process. National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento has the skill, experience, and expertise to help you preserve your entitled rights under Title IX and your school's policy. For a case evaluation or more information about his representation, contact him online or give him a call at 888-535-3686 today.