Community Message: Revised Title IX Regulations
Dear Members of the Bates Community:
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights released revised regulations governing the handling of sexual misconduct on college campuses under Title IX. The new rules will go into effect on August 14, 2020. We write today to share with you how Bates plans to proceed in light of these regulatory changes.
We have worked hard over the past five years to implement policies consistent with federal regulations and reflective of best practices in addressing issues of sexual misconduct on college campuses. These new rules maintain many of the structures that we currently have in place but also require changes in important policies and practices.
In January 2019, Bates submitted official comments to the federal government, outlining concerns about the potential impact of certain provisions on our ability to address issues of sex- and gender-based discrimination in a way that is fair and equitable to all parties involved and promotes a positive climate on campus. Since that time, we have been engaged in conversations about the proposed regulations prior to the release of final rules. At the same time, we have been exploring ways to meet the needs of our community while working within requirements of the new regulations.
Specifically, we remain concerned that some of the new requirements, such as the mandate of hearings with live cross-examination, will create significant burdens for all parties involved in the resolution process without guaranteeing a more equitable proceeding or more reliable outcomes. As we move forward, the college will craft a policy that mitigates burdens wherever possible.
While we will amend our policies and procedures to the extent required by law, we remain committed to providing full support to any community member affected by sexual violence or discrimination. At its core, our process will continue to treat all individuals involved in reports with dignity, respect, and care. We will conduct prompt, fair, thorough, and equitable investigations that uphold our community standards and maintain the safety of our campus. And, we will continue to develop and implement evidence-based training and education designed to reduce incidents of sexual misconduct and discrimination.
Though we do not support certain changes required by the new regulations, we are confident that we can meet our legal obligations while also maintaining policies and procedures consistent with our values. Over the coming months, we will clarify any changes in policy or procedures required under the new regulations, and we will revise our Sexual Misconduct and Harassment Policy as necessary. We will be prepared to implement these procedures beginning in the fall of 2020.
We will keep you updated as the process unfolds. Information about the new regulations will be posted on the Title IX webpage in the next few days. In the meantime, please feel free to be in touch with Gwen Lexow at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns. You may also submit questions and comments using this Google form.
Clayton Spencer & Gwen Lexow