Provost creates committee to alter Title IX procedures to comply with federal law
Observer Staff Report | Monday, October 5, 2020
A committee will advise the Office of General Council to permanently adapt the University’s Title IX regulations in order to comply with the new federal regulations declared in May 2020 by the U.S. Department of Education, provost Marie Lynn Miranda announced in an email Wednesday.
Vice president and associate provost for faculty affairs Maura Ryan will serve as chair. Other members of the committee were elected by Academic Council or appointed by Miranda.
The Academic Council approved temporary measures to bring the University into compliance with the new regulations on Aug. 10.
“The adopted changes removed the regulatory Title IX matters from Article IV/Section 9 of the Academic Articles and placed them within the Procedures for Resolving Concerns of Discriminatory Harassment, Sexual Harassment, and Other Sex-Based Misconduct,” Miranda said.
According to the meeting minutes, the University required changes in two areas to comply with the federal regulations. The University needed to use one standard of evidence across all cases and appeals, “regardless of who the complainant and respondent are.”
While almost all hearings had used a preponderance of evidence standard, faculty members may request a hearing and appeal under a clear and convincing standard if a violation results in a severe sanction.
The University was also required to change their regulations to “provide both complainants and respondents with equivalent appeal opportunities and processes.”
In the past, the same appeal procedure was not granted to complainant’s when the respondent was a faculty member.
The temporary measures applied the preponderance of evidence to all cases, and determined that the severe sanctions appeal process would “no longer apply to sexual harassment cases.”
The proposal would only be in place for the 2020 fall semester, and required more significant changes in the long-term, Miranda said. Without further action by the Academic Council, the temporary measures will revert to the previous standards on Nov. 20 2020.
The new committee, the Office of General Counsel and the Office of Institutional Equity will review proposed permanent changes to the Title IX policies.
Miranda asked the committee to consider a number of questions including how the changes in the evidentiary standards may effect decisions to report or “participate in investigations of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations.”
Miranda said the committee should address all of the following questions: “How do our procedures for addressing Title IX and other sex-based misconduct best protect due process across all parties, consistent with federal regulations? What are the features of an appeal process that is equitable across all parties? How do our policies and procedures reflect the protections and responsibilities of academic freedom?”
Notre Dame will also determine the changes other universities have chosen to help in the decision making. All students, faculty and staff may submit comments and questions to [email protected], and the committee will hold public presentations in order to provide the University community with updates.