Title IX – What Your College-Aged Daughter (and Son) Need to Know
This time of year is an incredibly exciting time for our children going off to college. It’s a time for making new friends, transitioning into adulthood, and experiencing the new freedoms that come from moving away from home.
As parents, we’re both excited and concerned for our children as they go off to college, perhaps more so for our daughters given the high rates of sexual assaults on campus. While we want our children to have fun at college, we also don’t want them to become a victim of sexual harassment or assault, or to be subjected to gender-based discrimination.
Understanding the Obligations of Colleges and Universities Under Title IX
Title IX was enacted to prohibit gender-based discrimination in schools and colleges when it was enacted in 1972. It first became widely known for requiring high schools and colleges to make significant changes in sports by mandating that girls and women have more opportunities to engage in sports similar to the opportunities offered to boys and men.
What many people do not realize is that Title IX also requires stringent measures be taken to avoid nearly all forms of gender discrimination in education. It also requires that schools have an established procedure in place for handling complaints of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence and assault.
Title IX Requirements Concerning Complaints of Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Sexual Violence and Assault
You (and your child) should know the following about Title IX:
- All schools MUST have a Title IX Coordinator, who is responsible for managing all forms of sexual harassment and complaints, including complaints of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual violence and assault.
- Title IX requirements apply to all colleges and universities, including community colleges and private schools, not just large universities.
- Colleges and universities cannot simply ignore or dismiss complaints. In the past, many victims were reluctant to report harassment and assaults on the basis that their complaints might be ignored. Worse – in the case of sexual assaults – victims worried that they might be blamed, especially if they were intoxicated. Universities and colleges must now thoroughly investigate all reported cases. When colleges and universities fail to comply with Title IX requirements, they can be stripped of federal funding.
- Investigations must lead to results. Colleges and universities cannot simply start an investigation, only to let the investigation languish, never to be completed. A prompt adjudication must be made with respect to the allegations.
- Universities and colleges must protect victims from future encounters with their perpetrator. In rape and serious sexual assault, this will normally mean expulsion for the perpetrator, in addition to criminal charges that may be brought. In cases of sexual harassment or stalking, the college or university may implement other procedures, such as re-assigning the perpetrator to another dorm or to different classes so that encounters with victims are much less likely.
- Colleges and Universities Cannot Take Retaliatory Action Against Those Reporting Assaults
- If colleges and universities fail to comply with Title IX requirements, a Complaint may be Filed with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The federal government is serious about Title IX enforcement in sexual assault matters, and currently there are over 250 investigations being conducted.
How We Help
Title IX requirements were dramatically clarified in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Education, specifically to clarify the obligations of colleges and universities in situations involving sexual harassment and assault. Still, many colleges and universities fail to take the required measures. For instance, in 2014, the University of Connecticut was required to pay a $1.3 million settlement to five sexual assault victims whose cases were allegedly mishandled by the university.
We sue universities, Greek organizations, and others who are to blame for sexual assault, as well as colleges and universities that fail to take required action under Title IX. If your daughter or son was the victim of campus crime, please call us.