Recent Controversies and Debates Surrounding Due Process in Title IX Proceedings

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What is Title IX?

Implemented in 1972, Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on gender in federally funded educational settings. It is commonly associated with addressing sexual harassment and assault in educational environments.

What is Student Due Process?

Student due process refers to the rights and procedures that students should be allowed and educational institutions should consider, to ensure students are fairly treated when facing disciplinary actions that might crucially impact their academic and future career.

Recent controversies and debates surrounding due process in Title IX proceedings

Title IX has been at the forefront of discussions surrounding due process, especially as colleges and universities grapple with how to address cases of sexual misconduct on campuses. Here are some recent controversies and debates related to due process in Title IX proceedings:

Balance between Accuser and Accused: One of the major points in the debates has been finding a balance between protecting survivors of sexual misconduct and ensuring the accused get their rights. Critics argue that, in some cases, educational institutions might unreasonably speed up the process of judgment to show that they take allegations seriously, potentially overlooking the rights of the accused.

Cross-examination: The role of cross-examination in Title IX hearings has been a significant debate point related to due process in Title IX. The Trump administration’s 2020 Title IX regulations required schools to allow cross-examination in hearings, but to be done but the accused directly, rather through representatives or advisors. While proponents believe it’s important for due process, critics present that cross-examination can be re-traumatizing for the victims.

Standard of Evidence: The 2020 regulations also let schools choose between “preponderance of the evidence” (more likely than not) or the stricter “clear and convincing” standard when deciding Title IX cases. The choice of standard can highly influence the result of the proceedings.

Mandatory Reporting and Informal Resolution: The 2020 regulations narrowed the definition of sexual harassment giving more freedom to schools to use informal resolutions, like reconciliation, in certain situations. This drew criticism over which cases schools should formally investigate.

Scope of Jurisdiction: The 2020 regulations limited cases to misconduct that happened within the school premises; educational programs and activities. This excluded many off-campus incidents, leading to more criticism in this line.

Changes with Presidential Administrations: It’s worth noting the impact of the presidential administrations changes on the due process in Title IX. With the changing U.S. presidential administrations, the interpretation and enforcement of Title IX have witnessed changes as each administration’s Department of Education releases its guidance, resulting in debates and potential changes in schools’ procedures.

Legal Challenges and Court Decisions: Different aspects of Title IX enforcement have faced legal opposition, resulting in important decisions that schools must consider. For example, in some cases courts have sometimes sided with accused students who felt their due process rights were violated.

The debates surrounding due process in Title IX reflect the challenge of addressing the critical issue of sexual misconduct while also upholding the constitutional rights of all parties involved. The debates around this significant topic evolve as the ever changing legal interpretations, and administrative priorities.

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