Changes to Title 9 affect Berry policies

Asa Daniels, Campus Carrier staff writer

On May 6, 2020, the U. S. Department of Education announced changes made to Title IX policies. The changes were first discussed two years ago, with open-comments and open feedback, according to Lindsey Taylor, Title IX coordinator. Colleges needed to publish an updated Title IX policy by Aug. 14, the day the new policy went into effect, in order to reflect these changes. 

Taylor explained that the changes include a variety of different aspects. Cases now have live hearings with cross examination. People who file claims can end the investigation or judiciary process at any time. Mandatory case reporters are now only all faculty and staff. And the definition through which a Title IX infringement is determined has narrowed. 

This change in case scope is the biggest for Berry’s policy, Taylor said. The scope has been narrowed to only include cases that occur on campus or in a place where the college has control, within the United States, according to Berry’s released Title IX Policy. 

“Let’s say you are overseas for a Berry study abroad and something happens between you and another Berry student that would fall under Title IX,” Taylor said. “With the new policy … the scope is only within the United States. Even if its two Berry students, even if it may rise to the level meeting the definition of assault, violence – because it’s overseas, I cannot do anything through a Title IX process.” 

Another major change for Berry was the list of individuals who are mandatory reporters for Title IX cases. Previously, it included supervisors and all level four and five student workers, along with all faculty and staff. Now it is just faculty and staff. 

Vice president of EMPOWER, Berry’s student-led group which aims to achieve equality between the sexes, junior Emily Saunders, believes that these changes will have a generally negative impact on campuses. 

“They overall inhibit the criminal justice process as they eliminate mandatory reporting in some reporters,” Saunders continued. “Because of this, colleges can possibly coerce victims into silence.” 

She also believes it will provide unwarranted protection to victimizers. 

“The changes also prevent prosecution of a faculty member via Title IX if the misconduct takes place off campus,” Saunders said, “which could enable them to evade criminal justice.” 

However, Saunders believes that there may be some benefits with the changes, namely the new mandatory reporters list, which may provide students with someone to listen to without needing to start a Title IX investigation. 

“This might allow students to feel more comfortable disclosing such information to [people],” Saunders said. 

Due to the Title IX changes, Taylor has been working on an updated sexual misconduct policy for Berry to cover cases that can no longer go through the Title IX process. She hopes to have it published next week. According to Berry’s Title IX Policy, any cases that do not fit its requirements will be transferred to the sexual misconduct policy for investigation by appropriate administration. 

Taylor plans to bring in new education and awareness for the upcoming sexual misconduct policy at Berry, which will work in conjunction with the new Title IX policy. The updated Title IX policy for Berry can be found at assets/Sexual-Misconduct-Policy.pdf .

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