“We’ve had feedback from attorneys who do the work in those cases, that it is night and day different on campuses,” said Joe Cohn, the group’s legislative director. “These are reforms that were desperately needed across the country.”
“We’ve had feedback from attorneys who do the work in those cases, that it is night and day different on campuses.”
Know Your IX doesn’t oppose keeping certain aspects of the regulation, such as an impartial and “thoroughly trained” panel making decisions on whether a student violated a school’s sexual misconduct policy. The group also supports cross-examinations done through third parties.
But Know Your IX also says the Education Department needs to take steps to stop schools from punishing students who report sexual assault, that states should amend laws to prevent students from facing defamation suits for filing Title IX complaints, and that schools should start releasing data annually on outcomes of student disciplinary cases involving sexual misconduct – none of which were addressed by the Trump administration.
Even former Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr., a steadfast ally of former President Donald Trump, called DeVos’ framework a “terribly misinformed and narrow view.”
Another criticism of the new rules is that they require schools to use a legal definition of sexual harassment that’s narrower than the one used in workplace cases – requiring the harassment to be “severe and pervasive” rather than “severe or pervasive.”
Experts say that narrower definition makes it more best cash advance in Ohio difficult for a school to take action when harassment of a student is ongoing, but doesn’t all come from the same person.
“If you’re a 15-year-old, and every week someone else says something gross about your body as you walk through the halls, you’re going to feel less safe in school even if there’s no one person responsible for the harassment,” said Alexandra Brodsky, an attorney with the nonprofit firm Public Justice, who is representing the Berkeley students.
In its lawsuit, the Women’s Student Union at Berkeley High School describes how students have faced harassment in Zoom “breakout rooms,” in group chats and on social media, including classmates who have circulated sexual images of students. Yet, the new regulation limits schools to investigating only sexual misconduct that is alleged to happen on campus or as part of a school activity. The students say this discourages them from reporting harassment to administrators when they’re unsure if it counts under Title IX.
On a near universal basis, organizations representing K-12 and higher education schools opposed the rules DeVos put forward, arguing in statements to the government that they were overly prescriptive, forced schools to act like courts and were “detached from the realities” on campuses
“It’s next to impossible to even draw a line,” said Ava, 17, a junior at Berkeley High School, who asked that only her first name be used to protect her privacy. “It’s not about the location – it’s about the impact it has on you.”
The regulation took effect in August, while many students, including those in Berkeley, were in remote learning. Some Berkeley students said that’s made it difficult to know where to make a complaint.
“Two of my teachers don’t know how to pronounce my name, and those are my two favorite teachers,” said Maize, 17, another Berkeley junior. “Given that, I wouldn’t feel comfortable reporting at all.”
Lawyers who advise schools on Title IX policies said the new regulation has become a particular problem in dating violence cases when students try to report concerns that a friend may be in an abusive relationship, but the friend doesn’t want to file a complaint. Research has found that most dating violence victims never report the abuse to authorities, often because they are embarrassed, unaware of their options or afraid of retaliation, but “the regs don’t take any of that into account,” said Scott Schneider, a partner at Husch Blackwell LLP, who works with universities on Title IX policies and investigations. He believes schools should be able to retain the option to open investigations even if the potential victim doesn’t want to file a formal complaint.