A college in Texas is criticizing proposed changes to Title IX law for outlawing its preferred investigation methods. Those methods, numerous courts have found, violate the due process rights of accused students. The college, though, insists that both the accuser and the accused students prefer it to a hearing that includes cross-examination.
Those statements bring to the forefront one of the most fundamental reasons why colleges should not be allowed to handle sexual misconduct allegations unless there are assurances that the process is as equitable as possible: They are more concerned with the preferences of their students than they are about reaching the correct outcome in the case.
Texas College Laments Return to Due Process in Title IX Cases
An article in the TCU 360 delved into how proposed rule changes to Title IX would impact students at Texas Christian University. The conclusion: They would “roll us back decades” by reducing the number of students who report sexual misconduct and rape on campus.
Texas Christian University was one of the many colleges across the country that changed their Title IX investigation and hearing process to conform with the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter released by the Department of Education under the Obama administration. Those Title IX changes at TCU replaced a courtroom-like hearing with the single investigator model.
Under this model, the accuser, the accused student, and all witnesses to the alleged act of sexual misconduct met in one-on-one meetings with a Title IX officer at the school. After hearing all sides of the story and weighing the credibility of each party, the Title IX officer then made a recommendation to the school about whether a violation had occurred and an appropriate sanction.
According to TCU's Title IX coordinator, even accused students preferred the single investigator model because of how fairly they felt the process treated them.
College Focuses on How Students Feel About Process
The problem is that accused students have a legal right to cross-examine someone accusing them of such a serious act of misconduct, and the single investigator model strips them of that right.
This cross-examination process is a tried-and-true method of figuring out which of two conflicting stories about an event is the right one. Courts learned that cross-examination works over a hundred years ago, and they are in the best position to know its value.
That TCU does not want to return to the old way of handling Title IX cases is not surprising: Colleges have been struggling to keep up with the changing landscape of Title IX law for awhile, and it has only just begun to settle down. However, that they want to stick with the current single investigator model because it makes both accusing and accused students feel better is disturbing when there is clearly a more accurate way of determining whose side of the study is correct.
Title IX Defense Lawyer Joseph D. Lento
Joseph D. Lento is a national Title IX advisor and a Title IX defense attorney who can represent those who have been accused of sexual misconduct on campus. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686.