On Friday, the Trump administration released new temporary guidelines for universities that are investigating sexual assault. But President Schill’s response on Saturday indicated he doesn’t expect much to change.
“We believe that new guidance will have very little, if any, impact on our current policies and procedures related to Title IX…” Schill wrote in an email to UO students. “We will continue to treat sexual misconduct cases with fair, impartial and timely investigations that are free from conflict of interest or bias.”
The changes come after Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ announcement earlier this month that Obama-era recommendations on investigating sexual assault would be rolled back.
Given the earlier lack of clarification on which parts of the statute would be altered, Title IX coordinators across the country expressed concern and skepticism.
Secretary DeVos formally rescinded President Obama’s “Dear Colleague” letter, which forced colleges that received federal funds to use the lowest standard of proof for prosecuting sexual misconduct cases. The letter also did not endorse the use of tactics such as cross-examination when interviewing accusers in sexual assault cases.
Critics of the “Dear Colleague” letter argue that the guidelines employed by the Obama administration unfairly target male students due to a lack of due process.
The guidelines provided by the Department of Education are temporary until a period of public comment ends, which is yet to be announced.
This is not the first time the Trump administration made changes to non-discrimination policies in education. In February, the administration revoked Obama-era recommendations for protecting transgender students in public schools.
Despite changes coming from federal agencies, institutions at the state level are taking a stand.
In the past, UO President Michael Schill and his administration took a stand against the Trump administration’s policies. Almost two weeks ago, President Schill reaffirmed his support for DACA and undocumented students on campus via email.
In President Schill’s response, sent via email to students, he said that he was pleased about the possibility of alternative resolutions to situations involving sexual misconduct. Alternative resolutions such as mediation are agreed to by both parties and require students to reach an agreement together.
One recent change to the Title IX policy enacted by the university is the addition of Board of Trustee members as mandatory reporters. Members of the board are now required to report incidents of sexual misconduct and Title IX violations.