Your university has long had a general policy prohibiting interpersonal violence between students.
When your Title IX Coordinator attends a large national conference on compliance, they realize that the policy is missing some important elements.
They tell you the current policy is not only out of compliance with federal law, but it’s also not inclusive enough to honor the spirit of the law. You and the Title IX Coordinator convene a 'meeting of the minds' to reassess the policy. Who should be at the table? What issues should you consider in the reassessment of the policy?
The Guiding Principles and Their Implications
#1 — Preserve the federally-protected civil rights of victims/survivors. Policies and procedures should reflect best practices for protecting civil rights, both in letter and spirit of the law. Policies should be inclusive enough to reflect all students’ identities and experiences.
Review the elements under ‘Policy Development: What’s Required’ to make sure your policy meets the federal and state requirements. The policy is required to:
- Outline Statistical Reporting Requirements and Confidentiality
- Provide the Required Definition of Terms
- Include the Definition of Consent
- Publish an Annual Security Report
- Include State Laws and Other College/University Policies
- Issue Timely Warnings
- Address Victims’/Survivors’ Rights and Resources in Policies
- Comply with the Right to Counsel for Students and Organizations (For Schools in the North Carolina Public University System)
Additionally, review the following sections under ‘Policy Development: What’s Recommended’ to make sure your policy is truly comprehensive and in line with the spirit of the federal laws. We recommend that your institution:
#2 — Policies should be clearly written and easily accessible. Information on the institution’s policies should also be presented to community members multiple times in a variety of formats.
Include representatives from various campus and community offices who might assist student victims/survivors and who can give input to make the policy as accessible as possible to students’ various needs. Start with the stakeholders listed under Create a Campus and Community Resource Team.
Presentation of policy information in a variety of formats should include, but not be limited to:
- Trainings for campus community
- Classes and labs
- Parent notifications
- Timely Warnings
- Print media
- Online (with a minimal number of ‘click-throughs’--see below.)
Staff/faculty - not just students - need to be exposed multiple times and in various formats to information on reporting, responding to victims/survivors, and Title IX and Clery Act compliance.
Institutions should make the following available online, as well as through print media and personal contact:
- All policies and processes related to IPV, stalking, and sexual violence.
- Information on all campus and local services related to prevention, intervention, and response.
Ideally, an individual should not have to click more than three times from the college/university home page to access a complete listing (via current hyperlinks) of resources and information regarding IPV.
Policies should be accompanied by primary prevention strategies and programming that reach the entire campus community.
Inform the community that supportive resources are available to victims/survivors whether or not they choose to report the offense to campus security authorities and/or responsible employees, and whether or not they would like the school to investigate the matter.
#3 — Creating and updating IPV policies should be a collaborative and inclusive process. Institutions should seek meaningful input and feedback from students, staff/faculty, and community stakeholders, especially those who might be marginalized because of gender identity, race, age, ability, immigration status, and/or ethnicity.
Create a Campus Climate Survey The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault has recommended periodic surveys to assess the climate of the campus with regard to all forms of gender-based violence.
Institutions should establish a multidisciplinary, Campus and Community Resource Team that can create and reinforce a comprehensive prevention and response plan for IPV, stalking, and sexual violence. Members of the team should meet monthly and receive regular, specialized training. Discuss results from your Campus Climate Survey with the Campus and Community Resource Team.
Federal guidance recommends that colleges/universities should sign Memoranda of Understandingwith local domestic/intimate partner violence and rape crisis centers as well as local law enforcement agencies regarding victim/survivor services and protocols. For more information on developing a Memorandum of Understanding with local gender-based violence service providers, visit https://www.justice.gov/ovw/page/file/910381/download. For more information on developing a Memorandum of Understanding with local law enforcement, visit https://www.justice.gov/ovw/page/file/910376/download.
Focus on Marginalized, Underrepresented and Especially Vulnerable Students: These groups warrant special attention when a school’s policies are being created or improved. The list may include LGBTQI+ individuals, people of color, students with disabilities, students who are immigrants, sorority women, and international students.