The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has released new guidelines regarding Title IX.
Title IX is a federal law that prevents discrimination of any form based on sex. It is also the department responsible for dealing with sexual violence on campus. The new guidelines, released in the form of a Q&A document, replace the Dear Colleague Letter that was released during the Obama administration and put their focus on creating a more fair trial for both parties.
“The changes are attempting to address a perceived problem with due process within Title IX and the way universities respond to Title IX,” Ferris Title IX Coordinator Kevin Carmody said. “This is interim temporary guidance that doesn’t have any force of law. As far as what that’s going [to] impact and how Ferris State University is going to respond, I don’t think we’re making any changes. We’ve already established our policies and our procedures. In the last six years since the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter came out, we’ve learned a great deal about how to do this work.”
The reaction of Ferris to not change their policies falls in line with many other universities around the nation who have already made similar statements. Like Ferris, many universities feel that they already have working policies and procedures in place that are fair to both sides.
“I think it’s important that you support both the victim and the person accused. The system as a whole shouldn’t favor one or the other and it should be fair for both parties involved,” secondary education senior Brianna Desmond said. “I think you need to keep supporting the victim in this time. Because Title IX is dealing with sexual assault and things of that nature, I think anything you can do to help the victim in that time needs to be done while keeping a fair playing field.”
One change that has garnered controversy is the suggestion that schools should give the accused a chance to appeal the results of the trial but whether or not the victim can appeal the results is at the discretion of the school. Formerly, the Dear Colleague Letter suggested both parties be given appeals.
“I think both sides should be able to appeal if they’re not satisfied,” business administration junior Nick Richert said. “Most courts have the right for people to appeal on either side.”
As for the effects of these changes at Ferris, Carmody reiterated that they will not affect policies or students.
“We’re going to keep moving forward,” Kevin Carmody said. “The biggest thing I’d hate to see is for people to feel like they can’t come forward because there’s no longer any protections. I’m already hearing it online where people are saying ‘They’re rolling back all of the protections.’ Our protections are still the same and those are things that we are going to have in place.”