In May 2020, the U.S. Department of Education made significant changes to the Title IX regulations, and it is important that we share these changes with you. Colleges and universities must comply with these new regulations by August 14, 2020.
What is Title IX?
It’s the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination at federally funded institutions. That can mean discriminatory treatment in educational programs or activities, including sexual harassment, or sexual or interpersonal violence (such as rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking). Although it’s a private college, Saint Rose receives federal funding and must comply with Title IX regulations.
The change: Requirement for a live hearing for cases that meet the new Title IX regulations, with opportunity for cross-examination. The process must be the same whether the hearings involve students or employees.
What does it mean?: Previously, Title IX cases, such as sexual assault or harassment cases, were investigated and adjudicated though investigator interviews with all of the involved parties. Now, there must be a live hearing for cases that meet the new Title IX regulations, if the complainant decides to move forward through the Title IX Grievance Policy process. Through this specific process, the parties are present (physically or virtually) and there is an opportunity for cross-examination. Both parties are allowed to bring an advisor of choice with them to the hearing, as well as to any interview(s) or meetings pertaining to their case. An advisor of choice is not an advocate, but they conduct the cross-examination.
Definition of sexual harassment
The change: The definition of sexual harassment has been changed.
What does it mean?: The new Title IX regulations changed the “or” to an “and” between “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive,” which raises the bar for sexual harassment that can be reported and adjudicated through this specific policy and process. In order to continue encouraging reports and a healthy campus culture for everyone, the College has kept the “or” in all other definitions of sexual harassment for students (Code of Conduct-Student Responsibility and Social Conduct) and employees (Harassment and Discrimination Policy), and for students/employees (Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy). The new Title IX regulations now cover the crimes that are already included in the VAWA amendments to the Clery Act (sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking).
Boundaries for incidents that fall under Title IX
The change: Changes in jurisdiction to when the Title IX Grievance Process applies. Title IX no longer covers incidents that occur outside of the United States, and incidents have to occur on campus or within an “educational program or activity.”
What does it mean?: It means that students have multiple options and working with our Title IX Coordinator can help them understand what those options are and connect them to support services and resources.
For the purposes of the Title IX Grievance Policy, The College of Saint Rose’s “education program or activity” includes:
- Any on-campus premises
- Any off-campus premises that the College has substantial control over. This includes buildings or property owned or controlled by a recognized student organization.
- Activity occurring within computer and internet networks, digital platforms, and computer hardware or software owned or operated by, or used in the operations of the College’s programs and activities over which the College has substantial control.
The Title IX Coordinator or designee will determine if the instant Title IX Grievance Process should apply to a Formal Complaint. The Process will apply when all of the following elements are met, in the reasonable determination of the Title IX Coordinator:
- The conduct is alleged to have occurred on or after August 14, 2020;
- The conduct is alleged to have occurred in the United States;
- The conduct is alleged to have occurred in the College’s education program or activity; and
- The alleged conduct, if true, would constitute covered sexual harassment as defined in this policy.
If all of the elements are met, the College will investigate the allegations according to the Grievance Process.
To maintain our commitment to a safe and healthy campus culture, the misconduct that is not covered under the Title IX Grievance Policy process will continue to be covered under the Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy, the Student Responsibility and Social Conduct, or the Harassment and Discrimination Policy. That means, should a gender-based harassment, discrimination, or misconduct incident between students or students/employees occur off campus or outside of “educational program or activity” it can still be reported to the Title IX Coordinator, and can still be investigated and adjudicated under the Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy.
Training, staffing, and information sharing
The change: Extensive training requirements have been added for Title IX and Conduct staff, in addition to existing federal and state requirements, including a requirement to post these training materials to the College’s website. The College must designate a Title IX Coordinator and provide a widespread notice of that person’s contact information on the College’s website, handbooks, and catalogs.
What does it mean?: We will expand our Title IX and Conduct team over the course of this year, offering faculty, staff, and administrators the opportunity to gain experience in these areas to serve our campus community. We have renewed our membership with SUNY Student Conduct Institute and will continue using their platform for required ongoing training. A link to those training materials will be posted on our website. Our Title IX Coordinator’s contact information has already been posted on the website, in handbooks, and in catalogs. We will continue to make necessary updates to our website as required. www.strose.edu/titleix
How a report is defined under the new Title IX regulations
The change: “Actual knowledge” is now narrowed under the new regulations to mean a report to the Title IX Coordinator or those that can adjudicate; and a “formal complaint” is a document directly filed by the complainant and/or signed by the Title IX Coordinator. It can be filed in person, by email, or mail.
What does this mean?: The new Title IX regulations have narrowly defined who someone can report to, in order to clearly identify the person (or persons) who have the authority to take action or adjudicate. The “formal complaint” is now required under federal regulations in order to streamline the process and formalize documentation, in an effort to have colleges and universities following the same procedures.
For the purposes of this Title IX Grievance Policy, “formal complaint” means a document – including an electronic submission – filed by a complainant with a signature or other indication that the complainant is the person filing the formal complaint, or signed by the Title IX Coordinator, alleging sexual harassment against a respondent about conduct within the College‘s education program or activity and requesting initiation of the procedures consistent with the Title IX Grievance Policy to investigate the allegation of sexual harassment.
You are still encouraged to report all incidents of gender-based discrimination or harassment, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking to the Title IX Coordinator, who will offer supportive and/or safety measures and connect you with on or off campus support services. The Title IX Coordinator will assist you with which process to proceed with, if you choose to move forward with the College process.
The change: The new Title IX regulations allows institutions to choose their evidence standard – either “preponderance of the evidence” or “clear and convincing.”
“Preponderance of the evidence,” which was in place for the majority of institutions prior to the adoption of these new Title IX regulations, means evidence must have a greater than 50% likelihood of being true.
“Clear and convincing,” is a higher standard of evidence, and means that the evidence is highly and substantially more likely to be true than untrue and that it is highly probable the accused is guilty. Though not quite as strong, “clear and convincing,” is closer to the standard of evidence in a criminal proceeding.
The regulations state that whatever process an institution chooses, it must be the same for students and employees.
What does this mean?: Saint Rose has decided to keep the preponderance of the evidence standard, as the equitable standard for all parties; and many colleges and universities are doing the same based on expert legal advice.
Other options for resolving complaints
The change: Institutions now have the opportunity to offer informal resolution options.
What does this mean?: This allows students and employees more flexibility in resolving conflict or misconduct if they are in mutual agreement and if they do not want to choose the investigation and/or live hearing process. Informal resolution is not an option in cases of sexual assault.
The change: Supportive measures are offered to students who report, regardless of whether they choose to file a complaint or pursue the College investigative process.
As appropriate, supportive measures may include, but not be limited to:
- extensions of deadlines or other course-related adjustments
- modifications of work or class schedules
- campus escort services
- restrictions on contact between the parties (no contact orders, issuing a persona non grata, and/or assistance processing an order of protection)
- changes in work or housing locations
- leaves of absence
- increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus
What does this mean?: Saint Rose already offered a range of supportive and safety measures (sometimes referred to as accommodations) due to NYS Article 129-B requirements and our ongoing effort to create a safe and equitable environment.
So what if …
What if I’m a victim of sexual discrimination, including sexual assault or sexual harassment?
Students are encouraged to report it to the Title IX Coordinator, who will listen to you, outline your options, and offer a series of supportive resources. You are in control of the decisions to the fullest extent possible. Reporting equals access to supportive measures, resources, and options!
Employees who experience gender-based discrimination or sexual harassment by another employee will continue to follow the Policy and Procedures for Handling Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment for Employees
If you are the victim of sexual violence:
- Get to a safe place – a friend’s house or any place where people can give you emotional support and physical care.
- Call the Rape Crisis Hot Line.
- Do not clean up. It may be difficult to keep from cleaning yourself up, but if you do you may destroy evidence that could be useful should you decide to report the assault to the police. Don’t wash up, douche, change clothes, eat, brush your teeth, go to the bathroom or brush your hair. Even if you are not sure about reporting the assault, it makes sense to preserve the option of reporting until you make a final decision.
- Seek medical help immediately for the treatment of any injuries and for tests to check the possibility of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.
- If you do plan to report the incident to authorities, there is an additional reason to seek medical attention. Medical evidence can be collected. Don’t douche, bathe, shower or change your clothes before seeking medical attention
- Report the incident to a campus counselor or victim advocate if you feel comfortable doing so.
- Seek counseling, whether or not you decide to report the crime or participate in legal action. Professional counseling is available through the Counseling and Psychological Services Center at The College of Saint Rose as well as through the Albany County Crime Victims & Sexual Violence Center. Counseling can be beneficial as you work through your reaction to sexual misconduct
- You may also choose to file a report with campus security, the Albany Police Department, or the NYS Police. This is your decision. (See “Procedures for Dealing with Sexual Offenses” in our Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy).
- If you wish, file a formal complaint with the Title IX Coordinator, if the accused person is part of The College of Saint Rose community. An investigation for appropriate disciplinary action under the College’s prohibition against sexual misconduct will occur.
- Tell your story soon to avoid forgetting details. Alternatively, write out the details for yourself or use your phone to record yourself.
- Take whatever steps are necessary to work through the incident/assault. This might include talking to your partner, friend or counselor about your feelings. Resume your normal routine as much as possible.
- Go with your instincts. Whatever you decide to do is a decision you must feel comfortable with. Your goal is to survive and escape safely. You will react to the crime in the way that makes the most sense to you at the time.
What if I know about or witness sexual discrimination, including sexual assault or sexual harassment?
Students are encouraged to report it to the Title IX Coordinator, who will listen to you, outline your options, and offer a series of supportive resources.
Employees are mandated reporters, meaning you are obligated to report known details directly to the Title IX Coordinator that involve and/or impact our students. The only confidential options on campus are: Counseling Center, Health Services, and Spiritual Life.
Anyone can choose to be an active bystander-Active Bystanders are individuals who decide to intervene when they observe a situation or see actions that might be harassment or sexual violence.
Some simple steps to becoming an Active Bystander:
- Notice the situation: Be aware of your surroundings.
- Interpret it as a problem: Do I recognize that someone needs help?
- Feel responsible to act: See yourself as being part of the solution to help.
- Know what to do: Educate yourself on what to do.
- Intervene safely: Take action but be sure to keep yourself safe.
How to Intervene Safely using the three D’s of Bystander Intervention:
- Direct – Directly intervening, in the moment, to prevent a problem situation from happening.
- Delegate – Seeking help from another individual, often someone who is authorized to represent others, such as a police officer or campus official.
- Distract – Interrupting the situation without directly confronting the offender.
- Call the Albany Police (518-458-5660 or 911) or Campus Security 24/7: 518-454-5187 for support.
- Call Residence Life (residence students) 24/7: 518-454-5295
- Or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1 (800) 656-HOPE (4673).
What if I need to make a report after hours?
You can make a report any of the following ways:
What if I am accused of sexual assault or sexual harassment?
You would be notified by the Title IX Coordinator and would receive due process, according to federal and state laws and the College’s policies and procedures.
If the reported incident occurred as part of an education program or on campus property, the report may be investigated under the Title IX Grievance Process.
If the reported incident occurred off campus property, the report may be investigated under the Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy, or the Harassment and Discrimination Policy for Employees.
If you are accused, you have access to supportive resources, as well as access to on- and off-campus resources.
An opportunity for feedback
In Fall 2019, Saint Rose received $299,727 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women for Project Voices, a coordinated, campus-wide effort to prevent and respond to sexual assault and domestic violence, using evidence-based strategies.
Shae-Leigh Voorhees, project coordinator for the Project Voices grant, will work with the Coordinated Community Response Team (CCRT) to solicit feedback from the entire campus community, as we look to shape our policies and procedures to best meet compliance and serve the needs of our community. Email Shae-Leigh Voorhees at firstname.lastname@example.org to join our CCRT or to express your interest in sharing feedback on our policies and procedures.