The final article in this series will be published on 10/26 and will provide more detail on what happens with the Title IX process in the event of an off campus case or out of the United States case, what the alternative investigation process looks like and more minor changes to the language of the policy. -- Editors
On May 6, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released newly revised regulations for Title IX procedures.
The largest amendments were made to the formal investigation process, including an additional step that is now called the “live question-and-answer” section.
All schools receiving financial aid were mandated to revise their written Title XI policy to reflect these changes by Aug. 14, and put them into action.
There were many minor changes in the phrasing of the language in the Title IX policy, including definitions. These changes to definitions were detailed in a previous Echo article published on Oct 12.
Taylor’s Title IX policy reads, “The purpose of the live question and answer is to provide the complainant (alleged victim) and respondent (alleged harasser) an opportunity to ask questions through an adviser to the other participant(s).”
Prior to the live question-and-answer session, both the complainant and respondent will be assigned an adviser. This adviser is a faculty member who will be in charge of asking the questions to the opposite party during the session.
The actual process will be done virtually over Zoom, unless both the complainant and respondent request an in-person meeting. Dean of Students Jesse Brown said this method is meant to provide as much comfort to the complainant as possible.
“If these two people don't want to be in the same room together, then they don’t have to,” Brown said. “They actually won’t even see each other on Zoom, they won't even be on the screen at the same time.”
The live question-and-answer session will be facilitated by Brown and monitored by two adjudicators, or people who review the evidence of a case and come to a conclusion.
During this time a participant’s adviser is able to ask the complainant or respondent relevant questions, including those questioning credibility.
The adjudicators are able to ask clarifying questions, and at the end of the session they compile information learned and add that to their overall evidence.
Taylor’s adjudicators include Director of Residence Life Scott Barrett, Head Volleyball Coach Erin Luthy, Dean of Experiential Learning Grace Miller and Dean of Experiential Learning Drew Moser
The new addition of the live question-and-answer section has already received criticism due to the abrasive nature of the questioning section. These concerns stem from the potential psychological toll it could have on the complainant to relive a highly emotional and traumatic event through the respondent’s questions.
Brown is aware of these difficulties and admits that there is a potential risk.
“I would tend to agree with that (the critiques,) but Title IX does not permit me to exclude this step,” Brown said.
Other changes that were made to the formal investigation process include an amendment to the language in the preliminary meeting section.
Under the U.S Department of Education, the respondent is not presumed guilty of the alleged harassment until the conclusion of the investigation.
The overall outline for a formal investigation includes a preliminary meeting, an assignment of investigators and adjudicators, notice of investigation, investigation, close evidence, review of directly related evidence, investigators written report, review investigator’s report, live question-and-answer and conclusion of investigation.
Additionally, all evidence for the investigation must be submitted by a specific deadline.
As of Oct. 15, Taylor’s Title IX office has not run through the newly amended formal investigation.