University drafts response to proposed Title IX changes

January 30, 2019

Georgetown released a draft of its comment regarding the Department of Education’s (DOE) proposed changes to Title IX enforcement and welcomed student input on the document through Jan 27. The draft comment pushed back on several changes to the existing system of Title IX implementation that Georgetown believed would limit recourse for survivors of sexual misconduct.

The university expressed broad concern in its comment that the DOE’s changes to the language of its policy would limit its ability to enforce Title IX. In the comment, Georgetown objected to a change in the definition of sexual harassment that would exclude a wide variety of misconduct that it feels should be covered by Title IX, including, for instance, sexual harassment that is severe but not necessarily repeated.

The comment also reflected a fear that the proposed change in language to the definition of a formal complaint to the Title IX office would exclude sexual harassment taking place off-campus or abroad, noting that much of Georgetown and other universities’ student life takes place outside of a strictly defined campus.

The comment also criticized DOE’s changes to the Title IX grievance process. The university argued against using cross-examination or live hearings in the process, which they feel would create an environment discouraging survivors from coming forward.

The comment also pushed for using the “preponderance of evidence” standard for deciding Title IX complaints, rather than the “clear and convincing evidence standard” which DOE has proposed.

The draft comment is partly the product of 11 listening sessions hosted by the university since DOE released its proposed changes, and a town hall held by Students Taking Action Against Interpersonal Violence. Rosemary Kilkenny, vice president for institutional diversity and equity, wrote in an email to the student body that comments made at these sessions were factored into drafting the comment.

Students are also allowed to submit their own comments to DOE. All comments are due by Jan. 30.

Jake Maher
Jake Maher is the former executive news editor and editor-in-chief of The Georgetown Voice.

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