Yesterday, the Department of Education released its final Title IX rule, codifying into law a myriad of provisions governing how K-12 districts and institutions of higher education respond to sexual assault. This final rule comes after the Department released its Notice of Proposed Rule-Making (NPRM) in November 2018, prompting thousands of public comments about how misguided, harmful, and dangerous these changes would be for survivors.
This rule remains dangerous for survivors and undermines all that Title IX was intended to do. It ultimately reflects the Department’s overarching priority of expanding protections for respondents while narrowing protections for survivors. Among the most significant provisions is the requirement that university hearings include cross-examination. These “cross-examinations” will be conducted without the rules of evidence or the expertise of a judge overseeing the hearing. Many students, including both survivors and accused students, do not have access to attorneys, which means that such cross-examinations will be conducted by individuals without any legal training or experience. This will have a devastating impact on survivors, especially those from marginalized communities. Through the issuance of this final rule, the Department has established even more barriers for survivors.
The VRLC will be providing additional resources for survivors and institutions, as well as opportunities for further discussion about it in the coming weeks. For survivors seeking full and equal access to education, please know that we remain committed to advocating for your civil rights; indeed, this work is as crucial as ever.