Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released the new Title IX guidelines, on Friday, Sept. 29, revoking a portion of the policy that was administered by the Obama Administration.
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender for schools and programs that receive federal funding. It also protects against sexual harassments– requiring schools to report any incidents of sexual harassment, domestic violence, or stalking.
According to RAINN, “women ages 18-24, who are college students, are 3 times more likely than women in general to experience sexual violence.”
“This interim guidance will help schools as they work to combat sexual misconduct and will treat all students fairly,” DeVos said. “Schools must continue to confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on. There will be no more sweeping them under the rug. But the process also must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes.”
What is changing?
Colleges can now require a higher standard of proof meaning “clear and convincing evidence” as opposed to needing only “preponderance of evidence” previously. This seems to be the most controversial change to the policy leaving some students in fear that their voices will not be heard due to the lack of evidence they can provide. However, for the accused, it is protecting them from false allegations.
An investigation must be done “reasonably prompt” rather than within the previously required 60 days.
Mediation between the accused and the victim will be offered so that the parties involved have a chance to talk. If both parties accept, they can meet with an independent third party to discuss what happened at the time of the incident with a goal to come to a resolution without all of the court systems and life-altering charges.
Despite the new interim guidance, colleges are allowed to determine individually if they will implement the new revisions to the proof standard. The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg takes these incidents seriously. Information on how to report an incident or get help is available online at http://www.studentaffairs.pitt.edu.