Below is a statement from Samantha Harris, FIRE's vice president for procedural advocacy, on the Department of Education's proposed Title IX regulations:
The proposed regulations are a marked improvement over the previous guidance in a number of important ways.
By taking the rights of both complainants and accused students seriously, these proposed regulations make important strides toward ensuring that complaints of sexual misconduct will be neither ignored nor prejudged.
The proposed regulations define sexual harassment in accordance with established Supreme Court precedent, eliminating the confusion that has led institutions nationwide to adopt overly broad definitions of sexual harassment that threaten student and faculty speech.
We commend the Department of Education for following formal rulemaking procedures to implement these changes, instead of mandating them through “guidance” or “Dear Colleague” letters. Public notice and comment is critically important because it allows for informed feedback from all stakeholders.
FIRE has long argued that everybody on campus benefits from fundamentally fair proceedings. While not perfect, the proposed regulations indicate the federal government’s recognition that students accused of serious misconduct are entitled to meaningful due process rights, and the proposed regulations include a number of important procedural protections that will improve the integrity of the process for everyone. FIRE looks forward to offering public comment and working toward final regulations that are fair and just for all parties.