Tag Archives: awareness

Title IX: Key Terms

Title IX terms are often unclear, and the very nature of claims can make the process confusing. We’ve put together some key terms and definitions that should help you understand a little bit more about Title IX and filing a claim under Title IX. As always, if you have any questions, contact us.

Bystander Intervention – This model focuses on stopping sexual assault by teaching prevention and interruption skills. It includes education on sexual assault, speaking out against sexual assault, and understanding and interpreting situations that could lead to sexual assault before it happens.

Campus Grant Program – This is a fund given to colleges and universities, specifically for reducing sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking on campus.

Clery Act – This is a federal law that requires higher education institutions to disclose and report statistics and information about campus crime, as well as prevention programs and policies. The information must be available to students, employees and the public.

Compliance Review – The Departments of Education and Justice periodically review federally funded educational institutions to check for compliance with federal laws, such as Title IX. Recently, many colleges and universities across the country have been failing to comply with Title IX laws.

FERPA – The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. This is not limited to academic transcripts. It also includes health records, disciplinary records and complaints.

Injunctive Relief – This is a court order (“injunction”) that requires a specific action. For example, a college may be required to provide counselling for a victim of sexual assault or made to improve education and training programs surrounding sexual violence and harassment.

Preponderance of the Evidence – This is the standard of proof in Title IX proceedings.  It essentially means proving that it is more likely than not that sexual violence or sexual harassment occurred. This is significantly easier to meet than the well-known criminal standard:  beyond a reasonable doubt.

Primary Prevention – The aim is to prevent sexual violence from occurring. This may be through training and education programs. Bystander invention is an example of primary prevention.

Responsible Employees – This term refers to any employee who is authorized to take action regarding sexual violence. It may also refer to someone who reports the incident to the Title IX coordinator or someone who a student may consider to have the authority.

Retaliation – Title IX law makes it unlawful to retaliate against an individual either before, during or after a complaint has been made. Retaliation includes intimidation, threats, coercion, harassment, bullying or creating a hostile environment.

Title IX Coordinator – Federally funded educational institutions must designate at least one employee to ensure compliance with Title IX. That person must be trained in sexual violence and sexual harassment cases and oversee all Title IX complaints.

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 – This amended the Violence Against Women Act and the Clery Act (see above) to update the requirements of how schools prevent and respond to sexual violence. The new requirements include primary prevention education, awareness programs, statistics on stalking and sexual assault (already required), issuing complainants a written notice of their rights, and updating grievance policies.

White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault – Established by the President in January 2014, the task force is charged with improving and sharing practices regarding sexual assault, increasing transparency and public awareness, and improving enforcement.

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Colleges failing to properly investigate sexual assault

A new study has found that around 40% of colleges have failed to investigate a single incident of sexual assault on their campuses in the last five years.  Furthermore, 51% of colleges admit they have no hotline to report sexual assaults, and 10% have no Title IX coordinator.

These findings come after a survey conducted by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo, who is focusing on campus sexual assaults after passing legislation earlier in 2014 to confront rape in the military.  To read the full report, click here.

Title IX and the Clery Act require colleges to report, investigate and prevent campus sexual assault, but these figures highlight a systematic failure to act in a significant portion of colleges. In the survey, colleges also showed a tendency to report sexual assault but not investigate it. The investigation process itself also remains highly fraught with many colleges not permitting the involvement of the victim in the case, while others involve a student body to adjudicate, leading to major privacy concerns and potentially discouraging student to report assault if it ends up under peer review.

There remains a significant lack of training and education to teach staff and students about sexual assault. 20% of colleges fail to provide sexual assault training for their staff, 31% fail to provide training for their students and 30% fail to provide training for on-campus security or police.

If you have any questions about sexual assault on campus or Title IX, please contact us today.

All statistics are from July 9, 2014 report issued by United States Senator Claire McCaskill.