Q. How is the feedback that F&M will be giving to the Department of Education about the Betsy DeVos changes to Title IX decided?
In their 9/22/17 press release the the Dept. of Education had this to say about the comment period:
“In the coming months, hearing from survivors, campus administrators, parents, students and experts on sexual misconduct will be vital as we work to create a thoughtful rule that will benefit students for years to come. We also will continue to work with schools and community leaders to better address preventing sexual misconduct through education and early intervention,” DeVos added.
An extensive internet search did not produce any way to comment on the guidance from OCR and the College has not received notice of a comment period. It appears that OCR has not yet issued a request for comments. In the quote above, students can see that the comment period will be open to all. I strongly encourage students to take advantage of that and submit their questions individually. However, students are also welcome to send their comments to the Title IX Coordinator so that, when directions on how to comment become available, F&M’s General Counsel, Pierce Buller, Dean Hazlett and the Title IX Coordinator can incorporate them into the comments that the College will submit.
Q. With the Department of Education’s new guidelines are we always going to follow our policies currently in place or will we change our practices?
We have no plans to change our policies at this point. That said, the General Counsel and I review and update our policies annually, using what we have learned through reports, investigations and adjudications from the previous year, to make the policies as user friendly and responsive to the needs of students as possible. The rescinding of the Dear Colleague Letter by the Department of Education did not create new requirements or restrictions. It simply removed the guidance from the DCL. Colleges are free to continue to follow that guidance which F&M has chosen to do.
Q. If a student decides to go through the police how does the Title IX Coordinator role and the process change?
If a student would like to file a complaint with the police they may do that by going directly to the police or by speaking with our Department of Public Safety. Officer Anne Strickler at DPS is specifically trained in handling sexual assault cases but any officer can assist the student. If the student meets with me and wants to file a complaint with the police I will refer them to Ofc. Strickler and, if they choose, accompany them to meet with her. Public Safety officers will arrange for a Lancaster City Police officer to come to DPS to interview the student. F&M’s policy states that the College will allow the police ten days to begin their investigation. After that the College will begin its own parallel investigation. Often the police request more time and F&M will comply if the student agrees and if there is no threat posed to the student or the College community by waiting.
The role of the Title IX Coordinator remains the same regardless of a criminal complaint; to insure that the College’s Title IX policy is followed. A police investigation and criminal complaint do not relieve the College of its responsibility to conduct its own investigation.