New Title IX regulations: What you need to know

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In May, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos issued new regulations for Title IX, a landmark federal civil right that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Title IX also addresses sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination and sexual violence. The change in regulations began Aug. 14, when universities and colleges across the country would risk losing federal funding for non-compliance.
 
Michele Reed, Title IX coordinator for Augusta University, explained some of the significant differences that took effect this semester.
What are the major differences between the old Title IX guidelines and the new guidelines?
  • The jurisdiction for Title IX has changed based upon the Department of Education regulations. Moving forward, incidents involving sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking occurring on an institutional property, institutional-sponsored events and/or off campus as defined by institutional conduct policies, will be addressed when the university has knowledge of allegations and incidents. Also, the University System of Georgia’s Sexual Misconduct policy may address incidents that occur outside the jurisdiction of Title IX.
  • The USG’s Sexual Misconduct policy has recently expanded and strengthened the definitions of retaliation, amnesty and false statements. Retaliation outlines protection for reporters, complainants, witnesses, respondents and those who choose not to participate. Amnesty explicitly applies to the consumption of alcohol and drugs for students, rather than employees. The false statement definition has been updated to indicate that an individual “knowingly made a false statement to a member of the institution.”
  • Based upon the new DOE regulations, the role of advisor for a Title IX hearing panel process permits an advisor to cross-examine a complainant/respondent and each university is required to assign an advisor for all Title IX hearings. For non-Title IX sexual
    misconduct investigations and hearing procedures, an advisor may provide advice and counsel to their respective party but may not actively participate in the process.
  • The recent update to the USG’s Sexual Misconduct policy enhanced the guidelines for informal resolutions to include: the role of the institution, determine if informal resolution is appropriate given the situation, mutually agreeable for the parties to proceed and parties may end the informal resolution at any time prior to reaching the terms.
How do the USG’s sexual misconduct policies help protect students?
The policy also protects students and employees against any form of gender bias or sex-based discrimination. The policy also protects students and employees who report incident allegations of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking. The USG policy is a protection for all students and employees to ensure everyone is treated with dignity, respect and fairness and is free from retaliation when dealing with any type of allegation or incident. The policy is a protection for students and employees who identify as LGBTQ+, are pregnant or parenting and who may have experienced gender or sex-based discrimination, sexual misconduct or interpersonal violence.
How do students begin to report an incident that happens on or off campus? Is there a difference?

For non-emergencies, students and employees can:

  • Complete the online report form.
  • Contact Michele Reed, the Title IX Coordinator by email or calling 706-721-0901 or 706-755-5462.
  • Visit the office at 1499 Walton Way, Annex I, HS 3509.

For an emergency on campus:

  • Contact Augusta University’s Police Department by calling 706-721-2911
  • Complete an online police report.
  • Visit the police department at 524 15th St.

Always contact 911 for emergencies off campus.

How do the changes to Title IX affect the investigation process?
  • An investigation will be initiated when the complainant (victim) is participating in or attempting to participate in an educational program or activity. The complainant must request a formal investigation and/or the university Title IX coordinator may deem it necessary to move forward with a formal investigation (in accordance with USG policies).
  • The USG policy has further defined some of the requirements for investigations across the system. The USG policy requires specific criteria will be included for the notification letters of investigation, so all institutions are practicing consistent standards, due process and ethical practices. There aren’t a lot of significant changes to the notification process for us at Augusta University since we embedded many of the requirements for our notification process.
  • A formal complaint or investigation may be dismissed when the following occurs:
      • The complainant (victim) may request in writing to withdraw the complaint, the respondent is no longer enrolled or employed, or when the circumstances prevent the gathering of sufficient evidence to reach a determination. There will be a written notice to both parties with the opportunity to appeal. Informal resolutions may occur in lieu of a formal investigation when the complainant and respondent voluntarily and mutually agree (student vs. employee cases cannot be resolved through informal resolution).
Where can students and employees go to learn more about Title IX, the investigation process and more?
Students and employees may go to AU’s prevention website to learn more about the Sexual Misconduct policy and procedures. The new policy is linked to the USG site.
 
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Raysean Ricks
Written by
Raysean Ricks

Raysean Ricks is a writer in the Division of Communications & Marketing at Augusta University. Contact him to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-721-6144 or email him at rricks@augusta.edu.

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Raysean Ricks Written by Raysean Ricks

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