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Trump Administration Changes Title IX Requirements

In 2011 and 2014, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) under the Obama administration issued two documents that both changed and clarified how colleges should proceed with sexual misconduct allegations under Title IX. Both of these documents have been withdrawn by the ED under the Trump Administration.

A new document entitled “Q & A on Campus Sexual Misconduct” has been released pending a formal review by the ED. This new document reflects several significant changes. Colleges are now empowered to choose whether to increase the standard of proof for assault victims from the “preponderance of the evidence” previously used to “clear and convincing evidence.” The time frame to complete a Title IX investigation is no longer fixed at 60 days but instead left open ended. Campuses have the option of limiting appeals to just accused students. Colleges may also encourage informal resolution such as mediation where both parties are willing.

Ms. DeVos, the head of the ED, issued a written statement: “Schools must continue to confront these horrific crimes and behaviors head-on. There will be no more sweeping them under the rug. But the process also must be fair and impartial, giving everyone more confidence in its outcomes.” Generally speaking, groups supporting students accused of assault have lauded the changes. Sexual assault victim groups have spoken out against changes as they believe the changes curtail essential protections. Final regulations should be issued in the next year or so.