Protecting the Rights of Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct: A Look at Title IX and the University of Central Florida
It is a well-known fact that colleges and universities are obligated to protect their students from harm. Any parent sending their child to school expects them to be safe and secure. This principle should extend not only to crime victims but also to those who stand accused of committing crimes.
Although our justice system holds as sacred the belief that all individuals are innocent until proven guilty, this does not always apply on college campuses. Many institutions fail to provide students accused of sexual misconduct with basic due process rights.
The History of Title IX
For years, most cases related to sexual misconduct were prosecuted under Title IX, a federal law passed in 1972 promoting educational programs that actively prosecuted sexual discrimination and harassment. Colleges and universities who failed to do so risked losing federal funding.
The original intent was laudable because this law aimed to protect women against discriminatory treatment on campuses during the late 1960s and early 1970s. In practice, however, schools were incentivized by money to prosecute every single allegation they received without regard for due process rights being afforded defendants. The meaning of “harassment” has since evolved over time, now including rape, stalking, partner abuse that forces schools nowadays even prosecuting some of the very serious felonies commited.
Changes Made: Trump’s Administration Weighs In
At the beginning of 2020, Betsy DeVosthen Secretary for Education during Donald Trumps presidencyintroduced new regulations aimed at restoring balance within campus judicial systems using Title IX. These changes guarantee students accused would finally have basic rights protections such as the right to cross-examine witnesses or receive a hearing.
These adjustments helped bring clarity and fairness back into an overloaded bureaucracy. But regrettably these changes were received negatively by many schools who saw it as attacking their own vested interests in protecting womens rights and victims justice. Many universities chose to fight off the changes by revising their student code of conduct so that alleged sexual misconduct fell under a separate code.
University of Central Floridas New Student Conduct Code
UCF also passed revisions to its previous misconduct policies after Trump’s new rules were issued, enabled it to prosecute sexual harassment allegations through Title IX or under the schools own guidelines. But compared to its Title IX counterpart, UCF enforcement diverged from established legal procedures in many aspects. For example:
– Defendants cannot cross-examine witnesses
– There is no option for a panel hearing and instead, only one officer presides over hearings
– While students can retain an attorney as an advisor, they cannot partake directly in the investigation or trial.
The University of Florida system does not operate like courts of law in these respects since it does not use the standard beyond reasonable doubt when finding defendants guilty. Rather they utilize a less rigorous standard called the “preponderance of evidence”. This means that if UCF judges believe it’s more likely than not that someone violated school policy or failed to report an act constituting harassment, then theres enough cause for disciplinary action against them.
Capital Punishments for Sexual Misconduct
The penalties filed against individuals indicted for sexual offenses are comparable to those meted down by ordinary court proceedings yet without solid due process protection rights for defendants since schools could suspend or disqualify students accused with permanent expulsion even if there was little evidence supporting the accusations.
Given these circumstances, being accused of student misconduct requires expert representation for individuals. Joe Spodek represents hundreds of learners within various learning institutions across the country while proficient with Title IX policies governing academic standards.
Todd Spodek: Your Legal Champion
Josepy D. Spodek is a student defense specialist who guarantees proper enforcement existing policies and regulations as meant for genuine redressal of crimes so that those accused gain their rights and are treated fairly. Had someone you know received allegations of sexual misconduct on UCF’s campus, contact Spodek Law Group through the 212-300-5196 hotlines or use our automated online form to get immediate assistance.