PRESS RELEASE

Contact: Christopher Perry

Telephone: 301-801-0608

Email: cperry@saveservices.org

Universities Face Major Changes in Title IX Landscape as Administrators Prepare for Fall Semester

WASHINGTON / August 14, 2017 – Last week the University of Georgia Board of Regents approved wide-ranging changes in the sexual assault policies at the campuses it oversees. The revisions were designed to strengthen oversight, assure a consistent process for all cases, and place more emphasis on prevention and education (1).  The changes were made in response to developments in the Title IX landscape that are occurring across the nation.

Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) has identified eight shifts in the policy landscape that have emerged in the past 12 months. SAVE invites administrators to review these developments and make necessary updates to campus policies:

  1. State legislation. Responding to reports of unconstitutional practices on campuses, state lawmakers have introduced 22 bills designed to restore free speech or due process protections to college students. To date, eight of these bills have been passed into law in Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and Virginia (2).

 

  1. Liability risks. The number of lawsuits by accused students is on the rise. Since 2013, judges have issued rulings on 55 lawsuits filed against universities that were at least partly favorable to the accused student (3). Last week it was reported that an average of $187,000 is spent per case filed by accused students (4).

 

  1. “Victim-centered” investigations. Investigations based on the “always believe the victim” model are often implicated in lawsuits by accused students against universities. An analysis of these lawsuits concluded that “victim-centered” approaches “are inconsistent with the most basic notions of fairness, repudiate the presumption of innocence, and are likely to lead to wrongful determinations of guilt.” (5)

 

  1. OCR complaints by identified victims. Following issuance of the Dear Colleague Letter in 2011, thousands of identified victims have filed complaints with the Office for Civil Rights alleging mistreatment by campus officials. Some identified victims claimed their experience with the campus adjudication process was more traumatic than the original assault (6).

 

  1. Administrator concerns. John McCardell, Vice Chancellor of the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee, recently charged the OCR’s Dear Colleague Letter has “imposed on entities ill-trained or equipped for the task, a quasi-judicial role, with the implication that ‘justice,’ however defined, can be satisfactorily rendered through processes that cannot possibly replicate a genuine legal proceeding.” (7) An Inside Higher Ed article on the annual meeting of the National Association of College and University Attorneys reported, “Many college and university officials felt overregulated by the Obama administration, and have expressed interest in seeing that oversight eased.” (8)

 

  1. OCR investigations. In June, the Office for Civil Rights announced that it will narrow its investigational approach to focus only on the specific allegations of the complaint, not on cases that have been previously resolved by the college (9).

 

  1. Expert reports. Five independent reports have recently called for an overhaul of the campus adjudication system (10):
  1. American College of Trial Lawyers: Position Statement Regarding Campus Sexual Assault Investigations
  2. SAVE: Six-Year Experiment in Campus Jurisprudence Fails to Make the Grade
  3. NCHERM Group: Due Process and the Sex Police
  4. American Bar Association Task Force for Promoting Fairness in Campus Sexual Misconduct Cases
  5. Heritage Foundation: Campus Sexual Assault: Understanding the Problem and How to Fix It

 

  1. Editorial criticisms. Thus far in 2017, over 300 editorials have been published at various newspapers and internet sites criticizing the recurring due process violations on campuses (11).

Citations:

  1. http://www.saveservices.org/2017/08/university-of-georgia-vice-chancellor-responds-to-significant-misinformation-contained-in-inside-higher-ed-article/
  2. http://www.saveservices.org/wp-content/uploads/State-FP-and-DP-Legislative-Analysis2.pdf
  3. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1CsFhy86oxh26SgTkTq9GV_BBrv5NAA5z9cv178Fjk3o/edit#gid=0
  4. http://www.chronicle.com/article/Lawsuits-From-Students-Accused/240905
  5. http://www.saveservices.org/wp-content/uploads/Victim-Centered-Investigations-and-Liability-Risk.pdf
  6. http://www.saveservices.org/wp-content/uploads/Six-Year-Experiment-Fails-to-Make-the-Grade.pdf
  7. http://www.saveservices.org/wp-content/uploads/Six-Year-Experiment-Fails-to-Make-the-Grade.pdf
  8. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/06/28/trump-administration-civil-rights-officials-promise-colleges-fairer-regulatory
  9. https://www.propublica.org/documents/item/3863019-doc00742420170609111824.html
  10. http://www.saveservices.org/sexual-assault/ocr/
  11. http://www.saveservices.org/sexual-assault/editorials/2017/

SAVE (Stop Abusive and Violent Environments) is working to restore free speech and due process on college campuses: www.saveservices.org