What You Need to Know About the Proposed Title IX Regulations

Students accused of sexual misconduct would gain greater protections and colleges investigating complaints could face reduced liability under sweeping new regulations proposed on Friday by the U.S. secretary of education, Betsy DeVos.

The long-awaited rules would replace the Obama administration’s Title IX guidance, which had called for more-aggressive enforcement of the 1972 law mandating gender equity among colleges that accept federal money.

DeVos rescinded that guidance in 2017 and promised that formal rules would follow. The proposed regulations, released on Friday but not yet officially published in the Federal Register, won’t take effect until the public is given 60 days to weigh in.

Many of the changes had already been made public in reporting by The New York Times, which obtained a draft of the rules.

Here are five things you need to know about the regulations:

A person accused of sexual misconduct would be guaranteed the right to cross-examine the accuser. This provision marked the biggest change from the draft that had been leaked in August. The questioning would have to be done in a live hearing by a lawyer or other adviser, but the parties could be in separate rooms, using technology if needed. The Obama-era guidance had discouraged direct cross-examination because of its potential to retraumatize victims.

Colleges’ responsibilities to investigate would be limited to cases in which there are formal complaints and the alleged incidents happen on campus or within an educational program or activity. Critics point out that many alleged incidents of sexual misconduct happen at apartments that are located just off campus, and it’s not clear those would have to be investigated.

The definition of sexual harassment colleges are required to act on would be narrower.The new rules would define sexual harassment to include “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity.” The Obama administration defined harassment as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.”

Read more of this Chronicle of Higher Education article by Sarah Brown and Katherine Mangan by clicking here.