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TITLE IX UPDATES FOR 2019

The Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity provides information below about the U.S. Department of Education proposed regulation on federal Title IX.

INTRODUCTION

NC State’s Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED) leads the university’s Title IX compliance efforts. The Equal Opportunity and Equity (EOE) unit, led by Vice Provost and Title IX Coordinator Sheri Schwab, facilitates the following activities to ensure university compliance with Title IX: review of reported incidents, provision of resources, support and interim measures to all parties involved in Title IX reports, facilitation of training and education, and assurance that investigation and resolutions are conducted in a fair and equitable manner. In addition, EOE provides guidance to all campus community members with questions and/or concerns related to Title IX. OIED partners with several campus units including the Office of Student Conduct and the Office of General Counsel.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

On November 29, 2018, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced proposed changes to how schools handle allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

Some of the proposed changes include the definition of sexual harassment, the standard of evidence for discipline decisions, the inclusion of mediation as a resolution option and under what conditions would an institution be obligated to respond to a complaint under Title IX. The new rules would also allow cross-examination by a party’s advisor.

“The proposed regulations would clarify and modify Title IX regulatory requirements pertaining to the availability of remedies for violations, the effect of Constitutional protections, the designation of a coordinator to address sex discrimination issues, the dissemination of a nondiscrimination policy, the adoption of grievance procedures, and the process to claim a religious exemption. The proposed regulations would also specify how recipient schools and institutions covered by Title IX (hereinafter collectively referred to as recipients or schools) must respond to incidents of sexual harassment consistent with Title IX’s prohibition against sex discrimination. The proposed regulations are intended to promote the purpose of Title IX by requiring recipients to address sexual harassment, assisting and protecting victims of sexual harassment and ensuring that due process protections are in place for individuals accused of sexual harassment.” (Proposed Rulemaking, www.regulations.gov)

NC STATE’S RESPONSE

NC State has routinely reviewed and updated the university’s Title IX processes in order to comply with federal law and provide better services to faculty, staff and students. At this time, we will not be making changes to our university Title IX processes until the proposed changes to the Title IX regulations have been finalized. After the regulations have been finalized, NC State will make any needed changes to comply with federal law. However, it is important to note that many of the federal requirements put forth a minimum compliance mandate. Therefore, in some areas NC State may have the ability to exceed federal requirements and provide additional protections for our students, staff and faculty.

Update as of January 30, 2019: The UNC System Office submitted a joint/collective response on behalf of all constituent institutions to the U.S. Department of Education. Also, NC State, represented by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU), joined over 60 other higher education groups to issue a joint comment to the U.S. Department of Education through the American Council on Education (ACE).

NC STATE’S ACTIVITIES TO DATE: A TIMELINE

November 16, 2018: Draft Title IX regulations proposed by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) were released to the public.

November 29, 2018: The proposed changes to the Title IX regulations are published by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and opened for a sixty day public comment period.

December 2018: Proposed Title IX regulations reviewed by the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity, the Office of General Counsel and additional campus partners.

January 7, 2019: A campus-wide open forum was hosted by the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity to provide the campus community with a high-level overview of the proposed changes. The facilitated discussion was moderated by Sheri Schwab, interim vice provost for institutional equity and diversity and NC State Title IX coordinator. Panelists included David Elrod, assistant equal opportunity officer; Thomas Hardiman, director, Office of Student Conduct; Janine Kossen, associate director, Women’s Center; and Betsy Lanzen, attorney, Office of General Counsel.

January 14, 2019: The NC State Women’s Center hosted a comment-writing session in Talley Student Union to provide an opportunity for interested community members to learn more about the process for submitting comments. This session included tips for submitting effective comments, and for working independently or collaboratively on comments to submit to the U.S. Department of Education during the official comment period. As part of the rulemaking process, the proposed regulations were open for public comment through January 30, 2019.

January 23, 2019: At the invitation of NC State Student Government, the Women’s Center provided a short presentation on the proposed changes, offered tips for submitting effective comments, and answered questions from members of Student Government.

January 26, 2019: NC State’s Student Government Association proposed and unanimously passed legislation to the General Assembly of the UNC Association of Student Government (ASG) to discourage the implementation of proposed regulations to Title IX by the United States Department of Education.

January 30, 2019: NC State Student Government and the Women’s Center co-hosted a second comment-writing session for interested community members to submit comments on the final day of the comment period.

January 30, 2019: The UNC System Office submitted a joint/collective response on behalf of all constituent institutions to the U.S. Department of Education. Also, NC State, represented by the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities (APLU), joined over 60 other higher education groups to issue a joint comment to the U.S. Department of Education through the American Council on Education (ACE).

February 15, 2019: The U.S. Department of Education reopened the public comment period for 24 additional hours.

NEXT STEPS

OIED will continue to keep abreast of developing news and updates relating to Title IX legislation and proposed guidance. Once final regulations on Title IX are determined, NC State will review the policies, implement changes as appropriate and inform the campus community of any changes to university policy.

In the meantime, we invite you to learn more about Title IX via the links below.

QUESTIONS?