The recent wave of attention to sexual assault on campus carries with it significant new compliance obligations that demand the attention of institutional leaders. Higher education leadership should already be familiar with the requirements of the U.S. Department of Education’s (“ED”) April 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, which addresses complaints of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other sex discrimination under Title IX of the Higher Education Act. These Title IX “1.0” requirements include:
- Issue a compliant Notice of Non-Discrimination
- Identify a Title IX Coordinator
- Create a process and procedures for investigating and adjudicating complaints of sexual misconduct with appropriate remedies and remediation if misconduct is found
- Implement education and prevention programs for students and staff.
2014 ushered in a new layer of requirements for colleges and universities dealing with sexual violence, including regulations implementing the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2013. New guidance calls on institutional leaders—including presidents, chancellors, and boards—to ask questions of staff responsible for Title IX compliance. To make sure your school is on the path to meeting some of the most important of these Title IX “2.0” requirements, ask:
- Is our sexual misconduct policy easily accessible to the public? For example, can it be found through our website’s search function?
- Have we updated our sexual misconduct policy to address violence that occurs between persons who are married or dating and to address stalking?
- Have we gathered information on local and national victim advocacy groups and resources for victims of sexual assault so we can provide it to them, along with contact information for local law enforcement?
- Have we told our students who they can speak to confidentially about sexual misconduct and who they can’t?
- What have we done to notify our administrators, faculty, and staff about which of them are “responsible employees” with a mandatory duty to report sexual misconduct?
- Do we have a procedure in place to ensure that we act promptly and effectively to meet any reporting or notification obligations under the Clery Act?
- Do we have a memorandum of understanding or other arrangement with local law enforcement that explains how we will work with them if we or they receive reports of sexual assault on campus or involving our students?
- What training have our investigators received about the effects of sexual assault and interacting with sexual assault victims?
- What training and awareness programs do we have in place for new and current students and employees on sexual misconduct policy and resources available to them?
- What are we doing to assess our campus climate as it pertains to sexual misconduct?
What this means to you
College and university leaders should make sure their institutions are on track to meet the newest generation of requirements for addressing sexual misconduct on campus. While not exhaustive, raising the questions above with Title IX staff can steer schools in the direction of increased effectiveness and compliance.