"These regulations eliminate the right to live hearings, eliminate the right to cross-examination, weaken protections for free speech, and authorize schools to deny students the right to have the active assistance of a lawyer. That’s a recipe for constitutional violations that courts are unlikely to ignore," said FIRE Legislative and Policy Director Joe Cohn.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in federally funded educational programs. One of our nation’s most famous — and sometimes most controversial — civil rights laws, Title IX was for many years best known for its impact on college women’s athletics. But the law has other important effects on campuses as well. For example, when it was passed, it explicitly banned most forms of sex discrimination in college admissions. Importantly, Title IX also requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding (virtually all of them, since federal funding includes things like Stafford Loans for students) to prohibit sexual harassment on campus.
Unfortunately, in recent years, the government’s efforts to fight sexual harassment on campus in the name of Title IX have sometimes overstepped the bounds of the law and the Constitution. Between 2011 and 2020, FIRE led the fight against the erosion of free speech and due process rights on campus that resulted from the abuse of Title IX. In May 2020, the Department of Education formalized new and long-awaited Title IX regulations that included a large number of the procedural safeguards FIRE sought, and carefully balanced the rights of all students. The 2020 Title IX regulations provide important protections for those reporting being victims of sexual misconduct while still ensuring that those accused are afforded basic due process protections, such as an express presumption of innocence, impartial investigators, and the right to a live hearing with cross-examination.
The Department of Education is in the process of revising Title IX regulations. FIRE urges the department to revise its proposal in a way that respects free speech and due process rights. We will consider all our options in an effort to preserve those rights — up to and including legal action.
This new proposal is a non-starter for student and faculty rights.
When Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis published “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe” in The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2015, she didn’t expect she’d become the target of a Title IX investigation as a result.
FIRE’s Guide to Due Process and Campus Justice provides information about the appropriate and inappropriate methods by which university administrators and student judicial panels address issues of academic misdeeds and behavioral misconduct.
In Twisting Title IX, Robert Shibley gives readers a quick but comprehensive overview of how Title IX “became a monster that both the federal government and many college administrators treat as though it supersedes both the U.S. Constitution and hundreds of years of common law.” Shibley provides a sobering, sometimes jaw-dropping, account of students and faculty members who’ve run afoul of these new, unlawful regulations and paid a steep price.
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