New Federal Guidance on Title IX Compliance

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has granted colleges new discretion in how they comply with requirements under federal Title IX law to handle sexual misconduct on campus, reports Inside Higher Ed.

At the same time, DeVos rescinded 2011 and 2014 guidelines issued by the Obama administration that survivor advocates say have been critical in pushing for new protections. The department's Office of Civil Rights will use the new guidance document to assess institutions' compliance with Title IX until a binding federal regulation for campus sexual misconduct is finalized in the next year to 18 months.

As reported by Inside Higher Ed, the following are among the changes from previous guidelines:

  • Colleges can apply either a preponderance of evidence standard or a clear and convincing evidence standard to reach findings about alleged misconduct.
  • There is no fixed time frame under which a school must complete a Title IX investigation.
  • Campuses may opt to set an appeals policy that allows appeals by both parties or by accused students only.
  • Colleges may facilitate an informal resolution, such as mediation, where they see appropriate. 

Advocates for survivors of sexual assault opposed the new guidelines, saying they lean toward protecting accused students, rather than victims. Some higher education organizations were receptive to the flexibility in resolving misconduct complaints. And longtime critics of the Obama administration's guidance praised the secretary’s focus on fairness for accused students, Inside Higher Ed reporteds.


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Inside Higher Ed