“Changes to Title IX Would Narrow Definition of Sex Discrimination”
Jan. 18, 2019
University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law Associate Professor Tammi Walker did an in-depth interview with Arizona Public Media’s news show “The Buzz” about the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed changes to Title IX.
Title IX is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination at educational institutions, and Walker explained that the proposed changes to the law alter the definition of what constitutes sex discrimination.
"These proposed regulations actually narrow that definition,” said Walker. “And they do it by saying this unwanted sexual conduct essentially has to be objectively bad."
She explained that there currently is no definition on what it means for something to be “objectively bad,” which presents a potential problem for universities trying to follow the law.
“There is an acknowledgement that we do need a clear definition of what is covered under Title IX, and that is the intent of the legislation, to try to provide a more clear definition of the types of behavior that would be prohibited pursuant to Title IX,” said Walker.
Additional proposed regulations include requiring that schools provide a live hearing, the ability to cross examine the accused and the accuser during the live hearings, and encouraging schools to have a higher standard of proof.
“What these new proposed regulations are suggesting is that schools consider implementing the clear and convincing evidence standard,” said Walker.
“The stated purpose of these proposed regulations is really to try to bring a more balanced sense of fairness to the process, and to make sure that those people who are accused have a greater sense of due process,” said Walker.
One possible drawback? Walker said victims who are already skeptical about whether their experience warrants filing a report to the university could question if they have sufficient evidence to file a report that will be taken seriously.