Monday, June 18, 2012

Yale Settles Title IX Complaint

Yale University has entered into an agreement with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to resolve OCR's investigation of a complaint filed last year about the university's lax process for dealing with charges of sexual assault and harassment.   The investigation confirmed gaps and weaknesses in Yale's system for reporting, recording, and resolving students' grievances about sexual assault and harassment, such as those stemming from the widely reported "No Means Yes" chant by the pledges to a Yale fraternity.  

According to the Voluntary Resolution Agreement, Yale agrees to create a university-wide Title IX coordinator who will oversee efforts to ensure compliance with Title IX's requirements regarding sexual misconduct.  Yale also agrees to create a university committee charged with educating about and enforcing the university's grievance procedures for sexual misconduct, to train campus police and other staff to respond appropriately to reports of sexual misconduct, to create a 24/7 response center to assist victims of sexual assault, and to regularly assess the campus climate with respect to sexual misconduct.

This resolution agreement is similar to others we've blogged about, containing many express requirements of Title IX (such as the requirement to have a Title IX Coordinator) as well as best practices for preventing and addressing sexual assault and harassment, as well OCR's interpretation in the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter.  In light of the fact that OCR has seen a 78% increase in complaints about schools' and universities' responses to sexual harassment in recent years (between 2008 and 2011), education institutions would thus be wise to proactively implement the same measures Yale has agreed to.  They could wait their turn at an OCR investigation, but wouldn't it be great if they could save everyone the trouble and start now?  After all, they already have a legal obligation under Title IX to protect students from sexual assault and harassment.