Beginning on August 14, 2020 new Title IX regulations are in effect. These guidelines have proved controversial. In particular, many higher education organizations and stakeholders objected to the change of the burden of proof requirement from a “preponderance of the evidence” for guilt to a more open-ended option of selecting either that standard or using the standard of “clear and convincing” evidence. This second standard places a higher burden of proof on complaining parties.
Some of the other most notable changes to the regulations include:
- Higher education institutions must now permit cross-examination of both the complaining and responding parties and all witnesses in a live hearing format.
- Removal of a specific timeframe in which colleges and universities must respond, offering the standard of “reasonably prompt” implementation of each Title IX stage.
- Title IX regulations will now include provisions for domestic or dating violence, as well as stalking.
- Sexual harassment has been legally defined as ““any unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would find so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal educational access.” This standard is not applicable to reports of domestic or dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault.
- Colleges and universities are required to give Title IX personnel training, including an overview of the definition of sexual harassment, impartial conduct, and the range of programs and activities to which Title IX applies. They must make those training materials available on their websites.
- Higher education institutions are only required to investigate cases of harassment or assault that take place within U.S. borders, but may choose to do so.
Those interested in learning more about the new regulations may wish to read the U.S. Department of Education’s summary PDF.