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Title IX: More than a policy

The horrific issue of sexual assault on college campuses is one that has been widely discussed in recent years, notably in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 requires that all institutions that receive federal funding have policies in place to prevent and address incidents of sexual harassment and assault.  The process of investigating and resolving Title IX cases, however, has been a source of controversy and frustration for many students, faculty, and administrators. Under the Obama administration, a specific 60-day policy was established, requiring that all cases be investigated and resolved within 60 business days. 

One of the main advantages of having a set period for resolving Title IX cases is that it provides schools with a clear understanding of what is reasonable. The Trump administration’s vague language regarding what is considered “reasonable or timely” left schools without a targeted time period. This lack of guidance led to cases dragging on for months or even years, which is detrimental to the well-being of all parties involved, and especially detrimental to those who have been victims of sexual misconduct. 

The Biden administration has acknowledged the policy made by the Obama administration in their new guidelines yet makes only a recommendation for a 60-day timeline, not a policy.

It is also important to recognize that there are various factors that can affect the time it takes to investigate and resolve a Title IX case. For example, a one-time allegation with few witnesses may be resolved more quickly than an investigation into a prolonged pattern of behavior with numerous witnesses and a significant amount of evidence. However, even in cases that require more time and resources, having a set time frame in place can help ensure that the process remains focused, efficient, and accountable to the people trusting the administration to support them. 

The formal resolution process typically involves an external investigator, who may have their own timeline. However, it is incumbent on the college to establish a reasonable time frame for the investigator to complete their work of collecting evidence, speaking with witnesses, and making a reasonable judgment. 

Speaking to some victims of sexual misconduct on the College’s campus, it is very clear that some defendants use the relaxed timeframe as a method to run out the clock. This can allow them to escape accountability in a variety of different situations in which delaying would benefit them. If a party is delaying the process or running down the clock in the hope of a favorable outcome, having a set time frame in place can help prevent this harmful act.

In addition, the Title IX office does not act as an arbitrator of the law, and, therefore, defendants are not required in any capacity to provide truthful information and accounts, evidence in a timely manner, or even admit that evidence exists if it could make them look guilty. Some argue that because it is in the defendant’s best interest to submit evidence in a timely manner, the 60-day timeframe would not be necessary. The reality of the situation is that there may be evidence that makes respondents look guilty, but they are not required to submit that evidence, another massive gap in the system that makes it slow, untrustworthy, and emotionally grueling.

The very nature of the Title IX system allows for it to be exploited. Oftentimes, for the sake of appearance, schools take a neutral approach and treat victims and alleged perpetrators the same. While accused perpetrators deserve support for their mental health and have every right to the same resources to help them, being accused of something and having a crime done to you are vastly different things, and more care should be taken in supporting victims and their rights to a fair and equitable process in which all information is available, truthful, and set out in a timely manner. 

Adopting an internal structure on the College’s campus as a promise to students to handle every case within 60 business days will allow for better trust to be built with students on campus. It isn’t everything, and can’t fix every structural issue with Title IX responses, but it can help support victims in equal access to a fair process that benefits them and doesn’t allow perpetrators to escape the extrajudicial system that defines higher learning. 

If anyone has questions or concerns about the Title IX process, please reach out to confidential resource Emily Schusterbauer at or in her office located upstairs in the Pugh Center in Room 238.


~ Hannah Perfetti `25

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