Recently in May the U.S. Department of Education published final regulations governing institutional responses to “sexual harassment,” including sexual violence, pursuant to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. These new regulations define the scope of an institution’s Title IX jurisdiction, specify supportive measures that institutions must offer to individuals who report sexual harassment, and impose requirements on the grievance process institutions use for adjudicating a complaint.
The new regulations include the following provisions, among others:
- more narrowly defines Title IX sexual harassment as “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive”
- limits applicability of Title IX to conduct occurring on a campus or property owned or sufficiently controlled by the institution, including officially recognized student groups
- limits applicability of Title IX to conduct occurring in the United States
- requires a live hearing, including an opportunity for cross-examination of parties and witnesses, to be done by an advisor of the party’s choice, who may be an attorney
- makes the procedures applicable to complaints by or against employees, as well as students
- provides for informal resolution of all complaints, with consent of both parties
These regulations are effective on August 14, 2020. Pratt has thus developed this Title IX Policy in compliance with the regulations. This policy applies to any complaint of misconduct that would be a violation of Title IX as defined in the regulations. The existing policies governing student and employee sexual misconduct remain in effect and will govern any complaints of sexual misconduct that do not meet the definition under Title IX but would otherwise be a violation.
Although the regulations in some respects represent significant changes in Pratt’s response to a complaint of sexual misconduct as defined by Title IX, they also explicitly permit institutions to pursue sexual misconduct violations that fall outside of Title IX’s scope under their own codes of conduct. So for example, a complaint of misconduct on a study abroad program outside the U.S. would not be covered by Title IX but nonetheless would still be addressed by the Institute’s existing policy.
Pratt strives to ensure that every student and employee is fully able to participate in and enjoy the benefits of Pratt’s educational programs and activities, free from sexual harassment or discrimination. We want to emphasize that the new regulations do not alter Pratt’s commitment or its ability to respond to complaints of misconduct, regardless of the location of the action or its severity. We encourage anyone who has experienced any harassment or misconduct of this nature to come forward and report it to the Title IX Coordinator.