Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 started as a federal law pertaining to gender discrimination in university athletic departments and has now expanded to cover all programs and activities at public and private educational institutions that receive public funding. The law states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
In the context of today’s issues, Title IX is often associated with sexual assault and violence on college campuses. In recent months, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has initiated reform aimed to “bolster the rights of students accused.” In order to cut costs, DeVos plans to limit and decrease the scope of complaints that institutions are legally bound to handle. As a result, complaints that would otherwise be investigated would now no longer be recognized under the new limitations set by her proposal. Another one of the Secretary’s complaints of the Obama administration’s rulings is a lack of emphasis on due process for the accused. In an interview with NPR, Harvard Law Professor Janet Halley attests to this, saying that the accused “rarely get to see the complaints against them.” She discusses that although precious Title IX resources are squandered by arbitrary cases, other changes that DeVos could make could create unfairness against the complainant.
While idealists would advocate and aspire for equal due process for both the survivor and the accused perpetrator, critics of DeVos remain skeptical of whether this proposal will actually instill justice. Along with a greater emphasis on due process, other proposed changes include making the appeals process optional, allowing cross examination between the survivor and the accused perpetrator, and allowing schools to only investigate episodes of misconduct that take place on campus or in their programs; at UT, this would not include places like West Campus and Riverside. Under the Obama administration, cross examinations and meditations were judged to be highly inappropriate, as it can create a hostile environment and retraumatize the survivor. Critics of the proposed reforms also argue that it ignores the highly skewed power dynamic between the accused and the survivor. With looser rulings and regulations enacted by the Trump administration, the justice sexual assault survivors receive relies upon the standards of their institutions. Narrowing the scope of what a valid complaint is means that schools will have more power to decide which cases they choose to pursue. Critics argue that the lack of obligation that the Trump administration is providing schools through their new rulings could potentially harm survivors more often than their perpetrators, as universities can be more lax with Title IX cases.
At UT, the respondent to a case must be a student. There are also six full-time investigators who must remain impartial and neutral during case proceedings. The Title IX investigation process is not meant to be a supportive resource, but it is definitely a bridge to one.
Below are some resources:
Counseling and Mental Health Center – VAV Advocacy Appointments
CMHC Crisis Line – 512-471-CALL (2255)
Interpersonal Violence Peer Support (IVPS) – New! Make appointments online at http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/emergency/ivps_appointment.php or call (512) 471-6147
University Health Services
Free Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) Must occur within 5 days (if police are involved) and 4 days if police are not involved
Voices Against Violence – https://cmhc.utexas.edu/vav/index.html
BeVocal – https://www.wellnessnetwork.utexas.edu/BeVocal/
Behavior Concerns Advice Line – (512) 232-5050, operates 24/7
SURE Walk – firstname.lastname@example.org, (512) 232-9255
Title IX Office – https://titleix.utexas.edu/file-a-report/
UTPD – (512) 471-4441
UT Domestic Violence Clinic – (512) 232-1358