U.S. Department of Education’s Final Title IX Rule Begins Aug. 14
July 20, 2020
In May, the U.S. Department of Education unveiled a final rule which changes how colleges and universities that receive federal funds must handle allegations of sexual assault and harassment under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The rule takes effect Aug. 14, 2020. Webster University is taking action to ensure full compliance with these new regulations. This includes revising Webster University’s policies to conform to the new regulations before the effective date and the start of the Fall 2020 semester.
Although Title IX rules are changing, Webster University’s outlook remains unchanged: Title IX is crucial to the health and wellness of the Webster community overall. One of the University’s highest priorities is fostering a welcoming and inclusive campus for employees, students, and campus visitors. Student safety has always been and will remain our priority.
Note: Webster students and employees who completed the mandatory Title IX module training from SafeColleges in January and February’s will not need to re-take training at this time, as its key concepts have not changed.
Key Changes to Title IX Law
A few of the important changes affected by the final rule include:
- Definition of Sexual Harassment for Title IX Purposes - Pursuant to the new Title IX rules, the term “sexual harassment” will be broadly defined in Webster University’s Title IX Policy on Sex Discrimination, Including Sexual Harassment to mean conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following: (i) An employee of Webster University conditioning education benefits on participation in unwelcome sexual conduct or (ii) Unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would determine is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access Webster University’s education program or activity, or (iii) Sexual assault (as defined in the Clery Act), dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking as defined in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
- Grievance Process- The new Title IX rules require the handling of formal complaints of sexual harassment through a formal grievance process only where the alleged sexual harassment occurs in a covered institution’s education program or activity; against a person in the United States.
- Live Hearings - The Title IX grievance process includes live hearings for formal complaints of sexual harassment. Such hearings will be conducted before a hearing officer and will feature witness testimony and questioning, including cross-examination. Complainants and respondents may select an advisor to represent them during the live hearings. Webster University will appoint an advisor for a party that does not have one.
- Appeals - Consistent with Webster University’s current policy concerning sexual misconduct, decisions rendered on a formal complaint of sexual harassment under the new Title IX rules will be subject to appeal under some circumstances.
- Informal Resolution - Except in cases involving allegations that a Webster University employee has sexually harassed a student, where a formal complaint of sexual harassment is filed, the parties may voluntarily and mutually agree in writing to engage in an informal resolution process (i.e., mediation) to try to resolve the formal complaint. Mediation, where available, can serve as an alternative to the live-hearing process.
About Title IX Law
Title IX is a comprehensive U.S. federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. The principal objective of Title IX is to avoid the use of federal money to support sex discrimination in education programs and to provide individual citizens effective protection against those practices. Title IX law prohibits sexual harassment as well as sexual violence such as rape, sexual assault, and sexual coercion; applies to all people regardless of gender; applies regardless of whether or not a criminal report is filed. Learn more at What is Title IX? or view Webster University’s Title IX Policy.
Please direct any inquiries regarding the final rule or the Title IX Policy on Sexual Harassment to the Title IX Office staff.