What is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal funding. Sex discrimination includes sexual harassment, sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape that are “so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit.” Even a single instance of rape or sexual assault by another student, faculty, or staff member could meet this standard.
What is a Title IX complaint?
A Title IX complaint is a document that details the ways in which you believe your college has violated Title IX. This complaint can involve a single case or multiple cases. The length of this document varies, depending upon the number of cases and the level of detail provided. Complaints include appendices with supporting documents (e.g., student newspaper articles, hearing board documents, emails, photographic evidence of retaliation).
Each complainant in a Title IX complaint is a student, staff, or faculty member who has experienced sexual harassment, sexual battery, sexual assault, or rape, or has faced retaliation for speaking out about sexual assault issues. Complainants can either be named or anonymous, and they can include as much or little detail about their case as they would like. Since Title IX focuses on the college’s handling of sexual misconduct, complaints detail experiences with the college/university. Survivors do not have to recount their experience of sexual misconduct in the complaint.
Some campus activists have also included violations of additional laws in their Title IX complaints (e.g., Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans retaliation and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act for failing to provide adequate mental health accommodations to rape survivors or other mental health-related discrimination).
THE CLERY ACT
What is the Clery Act?
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (known as the Clery Act) is a federal law requiring United States colleges and universities to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. The Act is enforced by the United States Department of Education.
The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to do the following with regards to sexual assault reports:
- Publish an Annual Security Report
- Disclose crime statistics for incidents that occur on campus, in unobstructed public areas immediately adjacent to or running through the campus and at certain non-campus facilities
- Issue timely warnings about Clery Act crimes which pose a serious or ongoing threat to students and employees
- Devise an emergency response, notification, and testing policy.
What are the categories of crimes that must be reported?
- Murder & Manslaughter
- Sex Offenses: Forcible (sexual battery, sexual assault, rape)
- Sex Offenses: Non-Forcible (statutory rape, incest)
- Aggravated Assault
- Motor Vehicle Theft
- Domestic Violence
- Dating Violence
Hate crimes must also be reported by category, including by the following: Race, gender, gender identity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and disability.
What is the Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights?
The Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights was passed by Congressin 1992. It mandates that colleges/universities must provide the following:
- Accuser and accused must have the same opportunity to have others present.
- Both parties shall be informed of the outcome of any disciplinary proceeding.
- Survivors shall be informed of their options to notify law enforcement.
- Survivors shall be notified of counseling services.
- Survivors shall be notified of options for changing academic and living situations.
Under the ADA, a person has a disability if they have at least one of the following:
- physical or mental impairment that “substantially limits” one or more ”major life activities”
- a record of such an impairment; or regarded as having such an impairment
- Students with disabilities have certain rights to academic, and living accommodations, and for survivors of sexual violence, Title II goes hand in hand with Title IX.
Title II and Sexual Assault
According to the 2006 American College Health Association Survey, 45 percent of college women and 36 percent of college men showed symptoms of depression that made functioning as a student very difficult. In addition, Almost one-third (31%) of survivors of assault develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) some time during their lifetime.
Both depression and PTSD are covered as disabilities under Title II of the ADA, as are bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, cerebral palsy, and schizophrenia among other psychiatric illnesses. Unfortunately, rarely are survivors connected to appropriate resources or informed that they have rights.
In addition to requiring students to be given certain rights, the ADA also bars institutions from using someone disability to disqualify them from access to an education program, and form using their disability against them in the context of a sexual assault complaint investigation.
A student’s history of depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts should not be used to discredit their report of sexual or interpersonal violence.
Title II in the Classroom
The Department of Education requires colleges and universities to provide students with appropriate academic adjustments and auxiliary aids and services that are necessary to afford an individual with a disability an equal opportunity to participate in the school’s program.
Examples of auxiliary aids that may be required are taped texts, note-takers, interpreters, readers, and specialized computer equipment.
In addition, schools should provide testing accommodation, assignment extensions, and opportunities for students to request medical incompletion for their courses, or request medical withdrawals which should be available to disabled students, even past traditional course drop periods, and should not adversely affect a student’s transcript.
THE CAMPUS SAVE ACT
The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act (SaVE Act) was once a stand alone bill whose components were instead applied to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) amendments to the Clery Act. The Campus SaVE Act updated the Clery Act, expanding the scope of this legislation in terms of reporting, response, and prevention education requirements around rape, acquaintance rape, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. (Source: Campus SaVE Act)
SaVE requires that incidents of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking be disclosed in annual campus crime statistic reports. Additionally, students or employees reporting victimization will be provided with their written rights to:
- Be assisted by campus authorities if reporting a crime to law enforcement
- Change academic, living, transportation, or working situations to avoid a hostile environment
- Obtain or enforce a no contact directive or restraining order
- Have a clear description of their institution’s disciplinary process and know the range of possible sanctions
- Receive contact information about existing counseling, health, mental health, victim advocacy, legal assistance, and other services available both on-campus and in the community
SaVE clarifies minimum standards for institutional disciplinary procedures covering domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking to ensure that:
- Proceedings shall provide a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution and are conducted by officials receiving annual training domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking
- Both parties may have others present during an institutional disciplinary proceeding and any related meeting, including an advisor of their choice
- Both parties will receive written outcomes of all disciplinary proceeding at the same time
SaVE instructs colleges and universities to provide programming for students and employees addressing the issues of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Education programs shall include:
- Primary prevention and awareness programs for all incoming students and new employees
- Safe and positive options for bystander intervention
- Information on risk reduction to recognize warning signs of abusive behavior
- Ongoing prevention and awareness programs for students and faculty