Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today released final regulations regarding campus responsibilities for adjudicating sexual harassment incidents at institutions of higher education under Title IX. The long-awaited final rule is the first set of formal regulations issued by the Department on this topic. We appreciate the attention of the Secretary and staff of the Office of Civil Rights to these issues. Unfortunately, these final regulations will require colleges and universities to comply with and create processes that could ultimately be detrimental to students. There is much in the rule that concerns us upon our initial review, such as requirements for institutions to implement procedures that are overly judicial and adversarial in nature.
In addition, it is disturbing that the Department issued these new regulations with an August 14 implementation date. As virtually every college in the United States is challenged with the implications of the COVID-19 crisis, the insistence on this date strikes us as shockingly tone-deaf. NASPA joined more than 30 other higher education associations in sending a letter urging Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to delay the publication of the final rule. In that letter, ACE President Ted Mitchell said, “At a time when institutional resources already are stretched thin, colleges and universities should not be asked to divert precious resources away from more critical efforts in order to implement regulations unrelated to this extraordinary crisis”. Sadly, this sound advice is not reflected in the August 14 implementation deadline.
NASPA staff are reviewing the text of the final rule and will prepare a full analysis to share with members, as soon as possible. We are keenly aware of the urgency of this matter for many NASPA members and appreciate your patience as we examine the full impact of the final rule. We invite you to share input on specific aspects of the rule and how it affects your work with NASPA senior director of research, policy, and civic engagement Dr. Jill Dunlap. In addition, we strongly encourage you to work with your campus senior leadership to review the final rule and evaluate how it may require you to change your campus conduct processes for sexual harassment incidents.
We know that in the next few weeks, student affairs professionals along with students and other key stakeholders will be working together to determine how to implement these changes. In an effort to help our members understand the impact of the final rule and what the changes mean for student affairs practitioners, NASPA has scheduled a free rapid response webinar with experts in the field on Thursday, May 14 at 4 pm ET. Register for this discussion with a panel of experts, representing a diverse range of perspectives from those whose roles will be most directly impacted by the final rule.
NASPA will also offer a new virtual, thirty-four-hour personalized Title IX certificate, beginning in late June, in partnership with Peter Lake. The Title IX certificate program is a first-of-its-kind training which includes separate tracks for Title IX Coordinators, Title IX Investigators, and Student Conduct staff. The training will cover the new regulations from the Department of Education, intersections between Title IX, Clery, and VAWA, as well as the relationship between student conduct administrators and Title IX coordinators. Registration details will be available soon.
As always, Culture of Respect, NASPA’s signature initiative for supporting colleges and universities in ending sexual violence, provides a cadre of no-cost resources accessible to any institution, and we continue to support more than 120 institutions as they process the impact of the final rule and its implications.
NASPA is dedicated to providing our members, and the higher education community, a variety of Title IX resources as we move forward collectively to adjust to what the new regulations will mean for our institutions and our students. We will keep you informed as we learn more and are looking forward to hearing from you.