Emory Follows Obama-era Title IX Policies, Reviews Interim Guidelines

Emory will continue to enforce Obama-era Title IX guidelines regarding university sexual assault cases, though the U.S. Department of Education announced interim guidelines while it develops replacement policies.

The Title IX changes were announced Sept. 22, and interim policies will replace the previous Obama-era guidelines, according to a Sept. 22 Department of Education press release.

Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair confirmed that Emory will continue to enforce the Obama-era policies while reviewing the interim guidelines.

“Emory University remains committed to sexual assault prevention, response and advocacy,” Nair said in a Sept. 22 Facebook post. “We will continue to enforce our sexual misconduct policy, reach out to educate and inform and build on the work of our Senate Sub-Committee for the Prevention of Sexual Violence. We are reviewing the new federal Q&A, which will be followed by Department of Education requirements, as we plan next steps.”

Emory released the same statement on the official University Facebook page Sept. 23.

In a Sept. 25 email to the Wheel, Emory’s Title IX Coordinator Lynell Cadray wrote, “Once all stakeholders have had time to thoroughly review the information, we will determine next steps. … The safety of our students and our entire community will always remain our top priority.”

Under the new guidelines, colleges can choose to apply either the clear and convincing evidence standard or preponderance of evidence standard to find an accused student responsible for sexual assault. The clear and convincing evidence standard is a stricter standard of evidence than the original Obama-era policy, which required universities to abide by the preponderance of evidence standard, also known as the 51-percent standard, which means that it was more likely than not that misconduct had occurred based on the evidence.

The new guidelines also modified the time required for investigations to be closed, changing it from 60 days to within a “reasonably prompt” time frame.

“There is no fixed time frame under which a school must complete a Title IX investigation,” the interim guidelines said.

The new guidelines also permit mediation as an option in resolving sexual assault cases. Mediation is an option to allow the accused and the accuser to reach a “voluntary resolution” in monitored sessions by colleges if both parties consent, according to the interim guidelines.

Under the Obama administration, a ban was enacted on mediation based on the belief that accusers were pressured to participate, according to The New York Times.

Universities may choose to follow the Obama-era guidelines while the new policy changes undergo a public comment period, the Department of Education said.

Changes were made to Title IX to increase the rights of students accused of sexual assault. The Department of Education stated that the original policy lacked “the most basic elements of fairness and due process,” according to a statement from acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson.

Among graduate and undergraduate students nationwide, 11.2 percent of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

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