On Thursday, Sept. 10, FIRE Senior Fellow Samantha Harris testified before the House Education and Labor Committee’s Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee during a hearing titled “On the Basis of Sex: Examining the Administration’s Attacks on Gender-Based Protections.”
Samantha thoughtfully explained why the Department of Education’s new Title IX regulations are not an attack on gender-based protections, but rather are an effective means of protecting all students’ ability to receive an education. (Samantha’s written testimony can be read here.)
Following the hearing, Subcommittee members asked follow-up questions in writing while the hearing record remained open. Accordingly, Rep. James Comer submitted four questions for Samantha to respond to, including a request for her to “explain the issues that FIRE has identified with how some campuses have educated their Title IX coordinators and how the Trump Administration’s regulations address those problems?”
FIRE’s concern is with the materials used to train those who will serve as investigators and adjudicators in Title IX cases—people whose job it is to be neutral. [. . .] If, for example, a jury empaneled to hear a murder trial were given a jury instruction that stated “99% of accused murderers are guilty,” we would immediately understand that—even if that statistic were true—it would be impermissibly prejudicial because the jury’s only job is to decide whether there are facts proving that the individual in front of them is guilty. And yet universities’ training materials would routinely include information about things like the relative rarity of false rape accusations—an assertion that, true or not, casts no light on the individual case under consideration but is likely to impermissibly prejudice an investigator or adjudicator.
Not only do the new regulations prohibit the use of training materials that rely on stereotypes and generalizations, they also require transparency: institutions are now required to make their training materials publicly available on their website.
FIRE was pleased to once again defend the new Title IX regulations, which take important steps to protect all students’ ability to receive an education. We look forward to serving as a resource for members of Congress from both sides of the aisle, in order to ensure that free speech and due process rights are protected on campus.
Samantha’s full supplemental testimony is available here and you can watch her testimony below: