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New Title IX Rules Make Reporting Harder

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JR Ancheta
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New federal rules for Title IX released earlier this month will change the way sexual harassment and assault complaints are handled by colleges and universities.

The new U.S. Department of Education rules amend regulations under the federal Title IX law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities receiving federal funding. 

University of Alaska Fairbanks Title IX coordinator Margo Griffith says the 2,000-page document is still being analyzed, but points to some major changes, including new rules governing the reporting of sexual offenses.

…a formal complaint.”

Griffith says that can make it more difficult for a victim to come forward.

…help them report.”

Griffith says another major change in the federal Title IX rules affects how cases are investigated, switching from the current model in which an investigator draws information from the alleged victim and the accused independently, to a live hearing, in which a panel or officer questions the parties, and cross-examination is permitted.  

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Credit UAF
Margo Griffith

…conduct the cross examination.”

Griffith says the hearing does not require the alleged victim and the accused to be in the same room.  Citing another federal rule change, which narrows the definition of sexual harassment, Griffith underscores that universities will still be able to maintain a broader standard.

Title 9 SH: Q:”…other conduct policies.” :11

The University of Alaska has put a lot of work into improving sexual offense prevention, and response since coming under federal investigation in 2014 for past mishandling of sex offense cases. UAF’s Griffith emphasizes that a resulting reform process continues.

Title 9 Mindset: Q:”…with that mindset.” :18 

Schools are required to begin operating under the new rules as of August 14th, and Griffith says a lot of work is underway to digest and implement them, noting that they will be incorporated into mandatory Title IX training for students and staff.