Title IX: Understanding Fair and Proportionate Sanctions for Sexual Misconduct
Title IX is a federal civil rights law enacted in 1972 that prohibits discrimination based on sex in any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Federally funded schools are obligated to promote equal opportunities for men and women during admissions, academics, athletics, obtaining benefits, and employment without discriminating against an individual’s gender.
Title IX also addresses sexual misconduct within any educational institute that receives federal funding. Any act of sexual harassment or assault is considered a violation of Title IX. Without waiting for any formal complaint from the victim, it becomes the schools responsibility to investigate if they learn about such instances. This mandate puts schools in a quasi-judiciary and investigative role as they try to follow vague federal rules and regulations.
If a school knows about an incidence of sexual misconduct harassment, assault, or violence – it has certain obligations mandated by Title IX. These include:
– Investigating the matter;
– Putting an end to sexual violence and making sure it does not recur;
– Addressing the effects of sexual violence;
– Protecting the complainant;
– Providing grievance procedures.
What Sanctions Can Schools Impose Under Title IX?
The Clery Act mandates that colleges list all possible sanctions they can impose due to dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault as part of their consumer protection act that provides transparency around campus crime. However, regarding rape and acquaintance rape cases, individual institutions can decide their penalties leaving wide variations between schools.
Given this scenario, possible sanctions under Title IX include:
– A written warning,
– Changing dormitories or living arrangements,
– Adjustment of schedules,
– A no-contact order,
– Loss of job or change in employment status,
– Losing scholarships,
– Loss of tenure,
Requiring a formal apology
Revoking or withholding a degree,
Expulsion from school.
What are Fair and Proportionate Sanctions?
The keywords fair and proportionate sounds like a reasonable standard for imposing sanctions in cases of sexual misconduct. However, in practice, various schools interpret this standard differently. There are wide discrepancies between the punishments given out by different educational institutions despite many being similar in nature.
For example, in 2012, when Michigan State University adjudicators found a student guilty of sexual misconduct, the school imposed probation and sexual harassment education counseling. The institute also barred him from contacting the victim or entering the dorm where she lived.
In contrast, a male student at the University of Kansas admitted to continuing to have sex with his female classmate after she asked him to stop and said no I can’t do this, prompting the institutional imposition of probation, banning university housing access, mandatory counseling, and writing a four-page paper reflecting on the incident.
In 2014, after a sexual assault incident, The University of California at Santa Barbara suspended an accused student for three months but did not include his violation on his transcript. In another incident that year which involved Brandeis University finding a student guilty of sexual assault; they punished him with only a warning and sensitivity training.
However, these moderate punishments are often exceptions rather than rules. In case an individual is found responsible for non-consensual sex under Title IX guidelines; almost all educational institutions will impose expulsion as punishment. If someone is found responsible for any type of penetration without consent (outside sex), suspension becomes the minimum sanction given out. Aggravating factors such as violence against complainants or other actions can put due-process proceedings into jeopardy by making things more egregious throughout.
Unfortunately, whether because schools fail to provide proper information to alleged students or lack knowledge on their part about possible consequences concerning violations under Title IX regulations – either way – those accused may have some misunderstandings concerning possible outcomes. Indeed, a warning, counseling requirement, or probation scenarios are rare in situations where the respondent is found guilty under Title IX guidelines.
If allegations arise under Title IX, you should consult an experienced advisor such as Attorney Todd Spodek having handled hundreds of similar cases across various educational institutions nationally. Attorney Spodek’s experience can be invaluable in providing individuals accused through proceedings the best possible defense and course to pursue.
Contact Todd Spodek at 212-300-5196 to learn how he can help protect your rights in any Title IX process.