Changes to Title IX Regulations

The United States Department of Education released new proposed regulations on Title IX that published for review and were subject to a 60-day comment period during which the Department of Education will accept public input, according to a campus-wide email on behalf of Interim President Andrew Workman.

The university’s current Title IX policies and procedures remain in effect until the final regulations become effective. Any required or suggested changes can be determined by appropriate university personnel, according to the email.

There are two areas of the new regulations that have brought concern to the university. These include the right for both parties to have an adviser of their choice cross examine the other party, and the possibility that an institution’s responsibility and ability to investigate complaints of conduct occurring off-campus could now be limited to behavior occurring during an educational program or sponsored activity.

RWU is concerned that the ability to cross examine the parties will add to the already traumatic situation for both sides, traumatize survivors again and is rooted in gender-based myths and stereotypes that add to a culture of “victim-blaming.” The university is also concerned that it’s possible that only one party could be able to afford an attorney for the chosen advisor while the other may not.

“Our current model involves an investigative process that encourages both parties to submit questions to the investigator(s),” read the email. “If sufficient evidence exists to warrant further review, all high level cases proceed to a panel hearing involving three trained and objective hearing officers responsible for asking clarifying questions in a non-confrontational manner.”

In addition, the university is concerned about the possible limitations on reporting and investigating responsibilities for off-campus incidents, thinking it may cause an “increase in sexual misconduct off-campus, decreased reporting and less intervention opportunities that may prevent assaults in on-campus residences by alleged repeat offenders.”

The 2017-2018 RWU Sexual Misconduct on Campus Climate Study said that about 30 percent of people who reported experiencing a sexual assault indicated that it happened off-campus.

The 2018 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report said that there were five reported rapes on campus, two reported cases of dating violence and one reported case of stalking.

Comments on the newly proposed regulations were open to the public until Jan. 30. It is unclear what the outcome will be for the new regulations.

“The Department of Education will have a duty to respond to all substantive comments and as of yesterday there were more than 8,000 comments that have already been submitted,” said Title IX Coordinator Jen Stanley. “Once the final policies are released, we will assess if any changes to our policies and procedures are necessary and communicate that our to the community.”

If you or anyone you know has experience sexual assault, sexual misconduct, stalking and/or dating violence, you can contact the Title IX office, health services, the counseling center, your RA, a friend or a trusted person for help.