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Colleges & Universities Taking Title IX Sexual Harassment Seriously


Title IX Sexual Harassment

Parents and Students Should Do So As Well

As many of us realize, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally funded education programs and activities. All public and private schools, school districts, colleges, and universities receiving any federal financial assistance must comply with the law. While Title IX initially received publicity by providing young women with essentially the same rights to collegiate athletic scholarships as young men, in recent years, the attention has turned to sexual harassment and violence on campuses.

Special Title IX Officers and Coordinators on Many Campuses

Particularly after 2011, when the U.S. Department of Education issued its “Dear Colleague” letter, ordering colleges and universities to take allegations of sexual assault more seriously and to lower the burden of proof for those bringing complaints, educational institutions have come to understand that the federal government is serious and aggressive in its handling of sexual issues on their campuses. Responding to the pressures, most colleges and universities, such as SUNY Albany, Columbia University, Syracuse University, and NYU have established formalized procedures to handle Title IX issues. Many have also hired Title IX “Officers” or “Coordinators” to oversee the processes, investigations, and hearings brought about under the law.

Title IX Allegations Are Quite Serious

Students and parents should first recognize the seriousness of any allegation of sexual harassment or violence under Title IX. In any Title IX case, both the complaining party and the accused have the right to an “advisory,” who may be an attorney. Most legal experts say that given the sensitive nature of these cases, it is essential that all parties be represented.

College and University Disciplinary Proceedings

In most instances, the Title IX proceedings are governed by disciplinary rules and procedures already established by the college or university. These can vary from campus to campus, and students and their parents should also recognize that the procedures for some times of academic issues, such as plagiarism, theft, etc. can be different than those in Title IX proceedings.

Some Universities Provide Little in the Way of Due Process Protections

Some Title IX proponents say that the usual protections of the criminal justice system are unnecessary in campus proceedings, since the disciplinary processes do not result in jail time or loss of substantial freedoms. They argue for speedy resolution of the issues. One can wonder whom the university is trying to protect: The complaining witness, the accused, or perhaps just the school itself. Some school administrators also argue formalized due process rights need not be considered, since the Title IX proceedings are “confidential.”

Most Statements in Academic Disciplinary Proceedings Discoverable in Court

While the general rule is that campus disciplinary proceedings are confidential, District Attorneys and other prosecutors seeking to support criminal charges may ordinarily subpoena statements given in the Title IX proceedings. In some instances, the prosecutors may have ongoing criminal investigations underway that involve the same on-campus sexual harassment or violence proceedings.

In virtually all instances, students – whether they be the complaining party or the accused – are best served by an attorney who can handle both aspects of the case to ensure that the student is protected in both arenas, and that the best possible outcome is reached that preserves the student’s future.

E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy is Equipped to Protect Your Student’s Interests

The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has extensive experience in all types of hearings, whether they are of the “informal” variety under Title IX or before a New York court. The firm’s team of attorneys has both the skill and resources to protect a student’s interests in any Title IX proceeding. We are one of the most highly respected law firms in upstate New York and the capital district. With offices in Albany, Troy, Saratoga Springs, and Schenectady, we have been representing clients for more than 125 years. Make the right call. Call us now at (518) 380-2597 or complete our online form. The E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy law firm has an attorney available to assist clients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year – even on holidays.

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