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Comment Period for Proposed Rule Change Showcases Competing Interests at Heart of Title IX

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Feb 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

Now that the comment period has closed on the proposed rule changes that are so critical to the Title IX infrastructure, those comments can be used to highlight just why those rule changes are so controversial.

Background: Proposed Rule Change and Comment Period

The proposed rule change deals with the Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance regulation. Last altered by the Obama administration to provide better protection to victims of sexual assault, the Trump administration – through Secretary of Education Betsy Devos – wanted to rollback those additional protections. So the Department of Education issued a rule proposal to do just that.

The goal of the rule was ostensibly to provide better guidance to colleges that were accused of violating Title IX by allowing sexual discrimination and misconduct to happen on their campus. However, by rolling back the earlier guidelines for how colleges were supposed to respond to Title IX allegations, the effect of the proposed rule change is expected to put the brakes on Title IX protections for assault victims.

When the proposed rule's comment period opened, the input from the public was swift and intense. More than 104,000 comments have been reported, in spite of site complications that kept many comments off the record.

Those comments did not just reveal how controversial the proposed rule change was: They also highlighted the two competing interests that lie at the heart of Title IX rules on sexual discrimination and misconduct investigations.

Comments Showcase the Big Picture Issues at the Heart of Title IX

Many of the people who feel strongly about the issues at the heart of Title IX overlook the interests that support the other side of the controversy. The public comments that came in during the open comment period on the proposed rule change reflect just that.

On the one hand, there are advocates for women's rights and sexual assault survivors. Comments by this camp strongly criticized the proposed rule change as a step backward in the fight to get rid of sexual assault and toxic masculinity on college campuses.

On the other hand, there are advocates for both men's rights and due process rights. Comments from this camp ardently supported the rule change as a return to a process that took the rights of the accused seriously and provided the time necessary to determine whether the accusation has merit.

Very few comments fell outside of these categories, and very few meaningfully engaged with the interests of the other side. While this created a poor forum for discussion, it did provide an excellent overview of the policies at hand, reminding us all that Title IX regulations are a tug-of-war between competing interests, with regulatory frameworks just trying to set a standard that proves workable for everyone involved.

Joseph D. Lento: A National Title IX Advisor

Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX advisor for students who are venturing into the sexual misconduct enforcement process, or who are being dragged there. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686 for the legal guidance you need at this critical time in your life.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.

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