UW System disputes proposed Title IX regulations
November 14, 2022
New Title IX regulations proposed by the Biden Administration have received major pushback from the general public. On Sept. 9, 2022, The UW System published a letter expressing their concerns about the lack of clarity on many topics, such as mandatory reporters and different credibility standards in investigations.
The new Title IX regulations would require almost every employee to be a mandatory reporter to students and staff experiencing discrimination. The UW System President, Jay Rothman, wrote, “Institutions should be free to determine which employees will be designated as mandatory reporters in a way that is consistent with that institution’s structure and student preferences.”
In addition, the new proposed rules would require a different way of reporting which would be “incredibly difficult to implement,” according to the UW System’s letter.
UW-River Falls currently requires all staff to be mandatory reporters with the exception of confidential employees, such as the Violence Prevention Coordinator, the on-campus Victim Advocate, and those who work in Student Health and Counseling Services.
The new regulations propose the idea of adding confidential employees to all campuses nationwide, which UW-River Falls is already prepared for. It will also be up to each institution to determine which employees will be considered confidential or mandatory.
As for the reporting process at UW-River Falls, staff or students can report to any of the three Deputy Title IX Coordinators on campus. These Coordinators are located in Athletics, HR, and the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards.
This report will be escalated to the Title IX Coordinator and Compliance Director, and then escalated to the Dean of Students. If the investigation needs to be moved further along, it will be taken to a hearing led by an Administrative Judge who has no ties to the university.
With the possible rise of reports due to the increase of mandatory reporters, Title IX Coordinator and Compliance Director Jennifer Larimore said, “I don’t know that we will see an impact here.” She added, “During my time here the reports have increased.”
In order to hold an investigation, many people have to judge a victim's credibility throughout the investigation process. The new Title IX regulation will change the standard of credibility that administrators will have to abide by throughout this process.
The new regulations describe this process by saying “credibility is both in dispute and relevant to evaluating.” The UW System letter requested clarification as to which part of the investigation these changes are applying to. They also asked for general, flexible guidance for credibility determination to be left up to trained investigators and hearing decision-makers.
Larimore expressed a similar sentiment, saying, “I would say with regard to the regulations that there is so much ambiguity and lack of clarity. I would guess in the final rule that there is going to be some clarification there.”
This is not the first time new regulations of this sort have been implemented. According to Larimore, in May of 2020, the Trump Administration made many changes around due process laws and “really opened the door for informal resolutions in the university setting.”
The official regulations were published in May of 2020, so the department only had three months to put everything in motion. The Department of Education said they were not going to put people through that again.
According to Larimore, 2020 was the first time any administration had placed regulations around the area of sexual assault and schools’ responses under Title IX law. Before 2020, the only guidance suggested to institutions was through Dear Colleague Letters, which were used by the Bush administration in 2011 and continued with the Obama administration.
Currently, the Title IX changes are proposed regulations that were open to public comment, so there is still a long way to go in the lawmaking process. Next, the administration will have to take all public feedback into consideration and amend the regulations or remove parts completely. After that, there are many other things the administration will have to do before officially publishing the new regulations. Larimore predicts that they will be officially published in spring of 2023.