On Nov. 16, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a proposed overhaul for Title IX regulations which, if passed, would include reducing the liability on the part of colleges and universities when investigating claims of sexual assault as well as boosting defendants’ due process laws.
According to The New York Times article regarding the proposal, “The rules would be the first regulations to govern how schools should meet their legal obligations under Title IX, the 1972 law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funding.”
DeVos’ proposed regulations will go through a 60-day public comment period which will last until Jan. 28, 2019. The period will allow people to provide feedback on the proposal.
Lori Brown, the director of EEO Compliance and Title IX coordinator at Seton Hall University, commented on current Title IX requirements.
“Title IX requires colleges and universities to have policies and procedures in place that address and remediate sexual harassment, sexual assault, and relationship violence (dating violence, domestic violence and stalking),” Brown said. “Title IX also requires that colleges and universities provide procedures and protocols for investigating these types of claims, including the provision of support resources/accommodations, interim measures and education for the University community.”
The New York Times article went on to explain how the proposed regulations would affect college campuses, if they went into effect.
“Under the new rules, schools would be required to hold live hearings and would no longer rely on a so-called single investigator model that has become common at colleges,” she said. “Accusers and students accused of sexual assault must be allowed to cross-examine each other through an adviser or lawyer. The rules require that the live hearings be conducted by a neutral decision maker and conducted with a presumption of innocence.”
According to Brown, Seton Hall meets the current Title IX requirements.
Brown commented on the process that the University would have to undertake should DeVos’ proposed regulations become law. “It would be a process that the University administration would undertake to review our current policies and procedures to assess what if any changes and/or revisions we would need to make to be in compliance with the Final Regulations,” Brown said.
Taina Vasquez, a junior criminal justice major, commented on the proposed regulations.
“I do not think that they will get the support for the overhaul after the public commenting period. I believe that the #MeToo movement and people who support the movement will try and fight against this overhaul because it will basically allow universities to sweep sexual assault allegations under the rug rather than investigating it,” Vasquez said. “I think it is sad that we are moving backwards and not taking every allegation seriously.”
Valerie Machalany, a senior with a major in social and behavioral sciences and a minor in psychology commented on the regulations.
“I do not like the new overhaul because it doesn’t seem like it wants to take the action necessary to help those who are in need of it,” Machalany said. “I do not think and do not hope they will pass it because it is not fair and should be thought out more and talked about to find the best solution to those who need the help. It makes me feel as if there is no help and that I am not safe or protected in an environment where anything can happen.
“Every survivor of sexual violence must be taken seriously, and every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined,” DeVos said when announcing the proposed regulations. “We can, and must, condemn sexual violence and punish those who perpetrate it, while ensuring a fair grievance process. Those are not mutually exclusive ideas.”
“Seton Hall University will continue to ensure a non-biased, fair and equitable process for all parties,” Brown reaffirmed.
Rhania Kamel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.