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POLL: Americans overwhelmingly oppose efforts to roll back campus due process rights

The words "Title IX" on a ripped sheet of paper
  • The Department of Education is expected to soon finalize Title IX regulations that would make campus disciplinary proceedings involving accusations of sexual misconduct less fair and less accurate.
  • A FIRE poll found three-fourths of Americans think the government should ensure the rights of both the accuser and the accused to a fair hearing.
  • Large majorities of Americans say they support the rights of accused students to have a live hearing, cross-examine witnesses, and be represented by an attorney — all rights that would be imperiled by the impending Title IX changes.

PHILADELPHIA, April 2, 2024 — As the Department of Education finalizes new regulations that would strip college students of critical due process rights in cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct, a survey released today by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression shows Americans overwhelmingly support these rights and believe they are necessary to ensure fairness and just outcomes.

Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs receiving federal funds. Among other things, it requires institutions to investigate allegations of sexual harassment and assault. After a series of delays, the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is expected by May to finalize its review of proposed Title IX changes that would reverse due process protections for college students accused of sexual misconduct. 

The changes in the proposed Title IX regulations include ending the requirement that schools hold live hearings and eliminating the right to cross-examine witnesses. But live hearings that allow for thorough cross-examination are the best way to fairly arrive at the truth, because they allow all parties to meaningfully present evidence and challenge testimony. Both changes would also weaken the right to active assistance from an attorney. 

The poll FIRE commissioned found that when asked about the individual rights the proposed Title IX regulations imperil, a supermajority of respondents supported them in each case:

  • 63% agreed with the statement, “Conducting interviews through written testimony is less insightful than conducting interviews in-person.”
  • 68% agreed with the statement, “Under Title IX, schools should be required to conduct a hearing where both the accused and accuser may hear and contest each other’s evidence, including their testimony.”
  • 79% agreed with the statement, “All students involved in sexual misconduct investigations should have the right to hire a lawyer to represent them during the investigation and hearing.”
Chart showing percentage of respondents who answered yes to a series of questions about Title IX

“Americans don’t only support campus due process rights in the abstract. They support the specific due process protections the new Title IX regulations would roll back,” said FIRE Chief Research Advisor Sean Stevens. “They understand that the right to a live hearing where one can cross-examine witnesses is paramount to safeguarding individuals against wrongful accusations and ensuring equal treatment by campus administrators.”

FIRE’s poll was conducted in August 2023 by Ipsos using KnowledgePanel®. (The Department of Education initially planned to issue the finalized regulations in October.) At the time, less than half of Americans (45%) said they had heard, seen, or read about Title IX. And less than 1 in 5 Americans who were aware of Title IX (16%) said they are familiar with the proposed changes.

Chart showing less than half of Americans (45%) said they had heard, seen, or read about Title IX

85% of Americans agreed that schools should do more to punish students who commit sexual assault and violence. But the poll also found that 74% of Americans agreed with the idea, “The government should be equally concerned about protecting the rights of alleged victims of campus sexual misconduct and the rights of the accused students.” Only 13% disagreed.

pie chart showing 74% of Americans agreed with the idea, “The government should be equally concerned about protecting the rights of alleged victims of campus sexual misconduct and the rights of the accused students.”

“Our polling shows that the public overwhelmingly rejects the false choice between protecting victims and upholding due process for the accused,” said FIRE Lead Counsel for Government Affairs Tyler Coward. “Americans believe that campus sexual assault is a serious problem, but that scrapping basic standards of fairness and impartiality isn’t the answer.”

This poll was conducted August 4-6, 2023, by Ipsos using the probability-based KnowledgePanel® – a division of Ipsos. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,032 adults ages 18-65 from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii who were interviewed online in English. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2.0 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults. The margin of sampling error is higher and varies for results based on sub-samples.

The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and sustaining the individual rights of all Americans to free speech and free thought — the most essential qualities of liberty. FIRE educates Americans about the importance of these inalienable rights, promotes a culture of respect for these rights, and provides the means to preserve them.


Alex Griswold, Communications Campaign Manager, FIRE: 215-717-3473;

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