Stanford proposes policies and procedures to comply with new federal Title IX regulations

The university is seeking input from the campus community on the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed Title IX policies and disciplinary processes for sexual harassment and sexual assault.

To comply with the U.S. Department of Education’s newly issued regulations for how colleges and universities manage Title IX cases, Stanford has proposed a new Title IX process for adjudicating cases of prohibited sexual conduct.

Stanford students, faculty, postdoctoral scholars and staff are invited to comment on the university’s draft proposal. Feedback can be emailed here. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 9.

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. The law also pertains to cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The U.S. Department of Education issued the new regulations on May 6, 2020, with the requirement that they be implemented on Aug. 14, 2020.

The new regulations require sweeping changes to the manner in which schools respond to Title IX allegations. For example, for the first time, the federal government is requiring a single hearing process for all faculty, students and staff.

While the new regulations are generally prescriptive in nature, Stanford considered the needs of both complainants and respondents across all populations at the university in developing its process.

"Complying with the new federal regulations is necessary for all educational institutions, including our own, and yet some of the specific requirements will raise a number of challenges for our university community," said Laura Roberts, the Katharine Dexter McCormick and Stanley McCormick Memorial Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, who served on the drafting committee.

"It is essential - perhaps more than ever before - that we work together to implement policies and practices that are informed by the best evidence on trauma, resilience and recovery and that are grounded in principles of public health and restorative justice," said Roberts, who is also chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavior Sciences.

Roberts said that one aspect of this effort is inviting comments and feedback to the drafts in an effort to improve them.

Provost Persis Drell said, "While we wish we could offer a longer comment period, we have been working diligently for the past three months with Stanford staff, students and faculty to draft the new policies and procedures. We have tried to get it right, but we know we need many eyes on the draft to create the best possible document. Moving forward, we anticipate the policies will continue to evolve."

Drell continued, "In giving feedback, it’s important to understand what is required by law and where Stanford has made choices. While we expect that many thoughtful individuals within the Stanford community will not agree with some of the requirements of the federal regulations, they are set by law and cannot be altered."

Title IX regulations are limited in jurisdictional scope. For instance, they do not apply to conduct outside of the United States and there is a narrower definition of sexual harassment than what is used at Stanford.

Stanford will continue to provide support and adopt policies that extend beyond the new federal regulations, said Lauren Schoenthaler, senior associate vice provost for institutional equity and access.

"Stanford is committed to ensuring an appropriate response to all allegations of sexual harassment and assault that occur within a Stanford program or activity, including acts that do not fall within Title IX’s scope," she said.

Stanford’s draft Title IX Process is the result of a collective effort of many individuals at the university. Input was provided by the Faculty Advisory Board and the ASSU Student Advisory Board on Sexual Assault.

Vice President and General Counsel Debra Zumwalt led a drafting committee that included Drell; Roberts; Robert Weisberg, the Edwin E. Huddleson, Jr. Professor in the Law School; Elizabeth Zacharias, vice president for human resources; Stephanie Kalfayan, vice provost for academic affairs; and Schoenthaler.

The draft Title IX Process contains references to sexual assault, sexual harassment and relationship violence. Resources to help with these issues are available for students through the Confidential Support Team and for faculty and staff through the Faculty and Staff Help Center.


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