New Federal Guidelines on Investigating Sexual Assault Incidents on Campus

On April 4, the U.S. Department of Education unveiled new guidelines on how colleges and universities must respond to incidents of sexual assault on campus.  Under Title IX, colleges and universities have been required to investigate sexual assault complaints. But until now there have been no explicit guidelines on what procedures should be followed.

The new guidelines, issued in a 19-page “Dear Colleague” letter from the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education, specify that schools must distribute a written policy of nondiscrimination to all in the campus community. Also, colleges and universities must adopt and publish grievance procedures for “prompt and equitable resolution” of complaints. An administrator must be appointed to oversee all complaints.

In addition, a criminal probe does not release the educational institution from conducting its own investigation. In making decisions in sexual assault cases, colleges and universities are instructed to use the more lenient rules of evidence known as a “more likely than not” rather than “clear and convincing.” Alleged victims and perpetrators are to be given the same rights regarding evidence, legal representation, and appeals. The guidelines stipulate that mediations are not appropriate forums for sexual assault cases.

The new federal guidelines were issued just days after the Department of Education announced that it was initiating a probe of Yale University’s response to allegations of sexual harassment on its campus. A group of 16 Yale students claim that members of a Yale fraternity marched through campus chanting derogatory slogans targeting women. The women claim that Yale’s response was inadequate and, as a result, a sexually hostile environment exists on campus.

Filed Under: Title IX


RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply