Why your school or college investigates sexual harassment and sexual violence complaints
Title IX requires your College, University, or School to:
- Publish a statement of non-discrimination on the basis of sex and gender in its educational programs, and must identify that it is required by Title IX to publish the statement. The notice must state that questions regarding Title IX may be directed to the school’s own Title IX coordination or to the US Dept. of Education Office of Civil Rights. The notice must provide the name, phone number, mailing, and email address of the Title IX Coordinator.
- Designate at least one employee as a Title IX Coordinator, whose responsibility is to oversee the school, college, or university’s response to complaints under Title IX, identify and address systemic problems shown by those complaints, to train other employees in the application, enforcement, and reporting procedures of the federal government, and the school’s own grievance procedures and conduct rules.
- Adopt and publish grievance procedures providing for the prompt and equitable resolution of student and employee Title IX discrimination complaints.
The Title IX coordinator is required to be neutral, free of conflicts of interest, and should be trained in the Department of Education’s and the school’s own sexual violence and sexual harassment grievance policies. The Coordinator and the Title IX office staff should be trained to treat complainants, respondents, witnesses, and other persons involved in the process, such as parents of involved parties, with equal degrees of respect and courtesy. The US Department of Education recommends against appointing such officials as a disciplinary board chairperson, a lawyer in the school’s office of General Counsel, or a Risk Management Officer as the Title IX coordinator. These employees’ other responsibilities have the potential to create a conflict of interest.
Many students perceive that their school or college’s staff are essentially functioning as both the “prosecutor” and the fact-finder of the Sexual Harassment or Sexual Violence Grievance. This especially becomes apparent when a university offers significant assistance to complainants, such as care advocates, special counseling facilities, special accommodations for classes, such as extended deadlines and extra time on exams, but offer the respondent virtually nothing to assist them, even though different treatment of complainants and respondents violates the US Department of Education’s guidance.
Your school may impose wide-ranging interim measures pending the investigation for which the respondent has little or no recourse. In many schools and colleges, interim measures are imposed with no hearing at all, and can be as extensive as suspension from the college or exclusion from many campus activities. Some universities, such as the University of California, offer the respondent a hearing on proposed interim measures, but in reality, provide the respondent student no means to oppose the interim measure, and no recourse if the investigation extends long past the expected deadlines for resolution.
An experienced advisor can assist you in understanding your rights and responsibilities under your college’s sexual violence and sexual harassment grievance process, and to help you assure that these rules are enforced equitably and fairly. Your advisor can help you to prepare for meetings, interviews, and hearings so that you can present your side of the case clearly with as much documentation as possible. This assistance may make the difference between a fair outcome and an unfair one.
About Alec Rose
Mr. Rose is licensed to practice law in California. Your school cannot prevent you from selecting the advisor of your choice, including an attorney or other professional. Outside of California, Mr. Rose’s assistance is educational advice, and does not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. This website, and all of the materials within it, are offered for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal or educational advice.
(c) 2016, 2017 by Alec Rose All Rights Reserved. No claim made on US Government Works and Publications.