White House Task Force Releases Report: Clarifies Important Questions Concerning Title IX For Institutions Of Higher Education

The White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault released its First Report, “Not Alone.”  The Report offers significant guidance to colleges and universities concerning Title IX compliance, and offers suggested policy language on several important issues.  The Report is a comprehensive effort to answer many previously open questions concerning Title IX compliance.  Here is a summary of the main points:

  1. Confidentiality in reporting is now better defined.  More important, confidentiality extends beyond state statutory privileges, and now includes a category of advocates who provide emergency and ongoing support to sexual assault victims.  No longer will advocates who do not enjoy a state statutory privilege be required to provide identifying information concerning a sexual assault/harassment victim to the Title IX Coordinator without first obtaining the victims’ consent.  The Task Force provides sample language for a new confidentiality policy here.  We will publish a more detailed examination of confidentiality in a later blog;
  2. The Task Force requires colleges and universities to publish for students and other campus members those individuals to whom victims can report with absolute confidentiality, those with near complete confidentiality, and those employees or officials who are required to report specific identifying information to the Title IX coordinator (which will initiate an investigation);
  3. Institutions of higher education are strongly encouraged to conduct a climate survey on their campuses, to obtain information about the nature, location and frequency of sexual assaults and sexual harassment.  This annual survey will provide metrics for the institutions to use in developing strategies to reduce sexual assaults/sexual harassment on campus;
  4. Recommendations for creating comprehensive sexual misconduct policies and training for school officials/employees;
  5. Recommendations for revised disciplinary proceedings that provide due process proceedings for the victim and the accused;
  6. Guideposts to improve the federal government’s enforcement efforts and to create transparency of those efforts.