consultants are sandburs

Monday, January 09, 2017

TITLE IX AND ENCOUNTERS OF A SEXUAL NATURE: What to expect from a DoE under Trump?

The headline poses a question where only a guess fits as an answer. Less focus and cost, at a guess, and lots of whining about any retrenchment whatsoever.

NY Times, from the item date offers baseline analysis of what the Trump administration will find and ponder:

Colleges Spending Millions to Deal With Sexual Misconduct Complaints

[...] Harvard’s first Title IX officer, leading a new bureaucracy that oversees how the institution responds to complaints of sexual violence under Title IX, the federal law that governs gender equity in education. She is one of a rapidly growing number of Title IX employees on campuses nationwide, as colleges spend millions to hire lawyers, investigators, case workers, survivor advocates, peer counselors, workshop leaders and other officials to deal with increasing numbers of these complaints.

[...] The expansion of Title IX bureaucracies — often at great expense — is driven in part by pressure from the federal government, which recently put out a series of policy directives on sexual misconduct on campus. More than 200 colleges and universities are under federal investigation for the way they have handled complaints of sexual misconduct, up from 55 two years ago.

But the growth of these bureaucracies also reflects the difficulties that students, parents, administrators and faculty members face as they negotiate changing ideas and standards of sexual behavior.

And in a report last week, a national association of professors said that the Title IX bureaucracy had started to infringe on academic freedom, by beginning investigations into faculty members’ lectures and essays.

Because of these complexities, dealing with these kinds of cases has been wrenching for students, faculty members and administrators. Many women’s groups have set a much lower bar for what constitutes sexual misconduct than previous generations, leading to more internal review of campus behavior.

[...] Title IX, enacted in 1972, bars discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs that receive federal funds. It is more familiar as the law used to promote gender equity in sports and faculty hiring. But a 2011 federal policy statement clarified that it also applies to how universities deal with complaints of sexual assault. At a minimum, federal rules require colleges to designate one Title IX coordinator, at least part time.

Many colleges have gone far beyond that, at a cost ranging from thousands to millions of dollars. College officials said it was difficult to put a price tag on the efforts because they often spanned more than one department and involved volunteers and doubling up on jobs.

[...] “There’s so much more litigation on all sides of the issue,” said Brett Sokolow, the executive director of the Association of Title IX Administrators, an industry group of 5,000 members that did not exist in 2011, and has doubled in size for each of the past two years. “This has very much created a cottage industry.”

Title IX coordinators, who carry out policy and oversee how institutions respond to complaints, can earn $50,000 to $150,000 a year. Mr. Sokolow estimated that the cost of lawyers, counselors, information campaigns and training to fight sexual misconduct ranges from $25,000 a year at a small college to $500,000 and up at larger or wealthier institutions.

At the University of California, Berkeley, officials said, Title IX spending has risen by at least $2 million since 2013, though they declined to give the total.

“Certainly, colleges are spending more related to Title IX than ever in history, both preventatively and responsively,” Mr. Sokolow said. He estimated that dealing with an inquiry could cost “six figures,” and that responding to a lawsuit “can run into the high six or even seven figures, not counting a settlement or verdict.”

A check of employment ads online found recent calls for Title IX officials at the University of Chicago, Elon University, Barnard College, George Mason University, University of the Pacific, Lynn University and Columbia University.

Columbia guarantees outside counsel to advise students on either side of the sexual misconduct hearing process, with the university picking up the bill. It has doubled the number of advocates, educators and counselors to 11 from five just three years ago. Instead of two investigators and case workers, it now has seven.

[...] Occidental College in Los Angeles hired a law firm, Pepper Hamilton, to conduct what was essentially a Title IX compliance audit.

Harvard has 50 full-time and part-time Title IX coordinators across 13 schools. Ms. Karvonides, a civil rights and education lawyer, was hired in March 2013. Under her leadership, the university adopted the new sexual misconduct policy and created a bureau of trained investigators.

[...] Many students have concluded that the best solution is not so much compliance as avoidance.

“You either don’t date at all,” said Daniel Levine, another student leader, “or you’re like a married couple.”

"Like a married couple" without a prenup can be a problem, and don't forget spousal rape is a real thing in abusive marriages. "Like a happy, non-violent, adapted married couple, with property division on dissolution of the relationship, hopefully without child custody dispute," might be the way to phrase things.

From UMn Twin Cities, a new measure of spending applies, so what might the number be, not by thousands or a million but by how many Fleck annual salaries are spent nationwide on a year's Title IX enforcement evolution? Tracking the NY Times item's number, Cal Berkeley alone would be spending an incremental amount that rings in at somewhat less than 2/3 of a Fleck annual salary but more than 1/2 of one, for example.

(One Fleck annual salary = $3.5 million, etc., etc.)

A number of universities have created and placed online directives or policy codes for Title IX sexual encounter evaluation; e.g., Stanford. If Hewitt at UMn has articulated and published any such guidance, a link is needed. Nothing was found from cursory to moderate web search. The salary range mentioned in the NYT item puts Hewitt's salary at the top end of the enforcement-official pay scale, so perhaps she has insufficient staff, or some other explanation for not being clear and explicit in setting rules and instead favoring enforcement policy formation ad hoc by adjudication, where the 80 page EOAA thing is problematic in being conclusory without any record, so far as reporting indicates, to support the key conclusion that the claimant was credible and the defendants were less so - that finding having been made without review, apparently, of the video evidence police investigators found to be evidence of consensual sex.

Onesidedness in the start of investigation and that having a possible taint on the 80 page reporting may be a problem. Hewitt's arrangements merit attention, questioning, and discovery proceedings to allow reaching better understandings of closed-door processes.

_________FURTHER UPDATE__________
Another link, here, titled, "Lax enforcement of Title IX in campus sexual assault cases -- Feeble watchdog leaves students at risk, critics say;" part of the extensive postings, this link. An "about" page, here.

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