Statement on Updated Title IX Regulations

May 11 , 2020

The Department of Education recently issued its final rule that updates how institutions of higher education will be required to handle sexual assault and harassment cases under Title IX, including when an institution is considered to be aware of an allegation, the procedures an institution must use to facilitate a fair hearing, and other details such as evidence standards. After an initial review, ACHA is concerned that college and university compliance required by these regulations may be harmful to the well-being of our students. Among some of our immediate concerns are that Title IX processes are available only for incidents that occur in a university program or activity and are available only to students in the United States. This leaves no identified process for incidents outside of university programs or activities or for the large number of students participating in our study abroad programs. Additionally, the requirement of live hearings and the opportunity for cross examination will likely lead to increased mental distress.   

We are also concerned about the compliance date. In late March, ACHA, along with more than 30 other higher education organizations, sent letter requesting that the Department of Education delay the publication of the final rule due to the significant campus resources needed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. By issuing a compliance date of August 14, 2020, the Department is ignoring the immense pressure campuses are under to safeguard students, faculty, and staff during this crisis and heading into the fall semester. We cannot stress enough that in order to protect lives, campuses will very likely be devoting nearly all available resources to their COVID-19 mitigation efforts during the months leading up to August 14th. As evidenced in ACHA’s recent guidelines on reopening campuses, this will be no small feat and campuses must be able to focus their efforts on this critical task.  
 
ACHA is reviewing the text of the final rule and will provide additional guidance as soon as possible. We have created a new Title IX Response Task Force to aid our efforts and to provide the necessary support to our members as they grapple with compliance under these new regulations. We urge our members to work with senior leadership on their campus to determine how the final rule will affect their campus policies and processes. We also invite you to engage with ACHA staff and leadership regarding your questions and concerns. 
 
As we address these new regulations, we want to remind you of our existing resources to support campus efforts to prevent and respond to sexual and relationship violence:

ACHA remains dedicated to preventing campus violence in all forms and to helping our members create safe and health campus communities. Please watch for additional communication from us on this urgent matter. 

Sincerely, 
Katrin Wesner-Harts, EdD, FACHA
President, American College Health Association
Director, Abrons Student Health Center, University of North Carolina Wilmington

Kim M. Webb, MEd, LPC
President-elect, American College Health Association
Director, Relationship & Sexual Violence Prevention Center, Washington University in St. Louis