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What the changes to Title IX mean for Ohio State

The Department of Education has overhauled regulations addressing sexual harassment at the nation’s colleges and universities

In May 2020, after nearly three years of deliberation, the U.S. Department of Education announced new Title IX regulations governing how federally funded schools of all levels address incidents of sexual harassment among students, faculty and staff.

The final rule, which takes effect Aug. 14, mandates changes. It’s important to note, however, that the new Title IX defines the minimum steps that schools, colleges and universities must take in sexual harassment cases. Colleges and universities may do more, as Ohio State traditionally has done. 

Ohio State recently revised university policies and faculty rules to comply with new Title IX regulations.

“Our purpose at Ohio State is to create a learning and working environment that is equitable, fair and just for our students, faculty and staff,” said Katherine Lasher, associate vice president for the Office of Institutional Equity, which was established in 2018 to serve as the university’s central office overseeing all complaints of harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct.

“We will continue to be a leader and we aim for best practices when addressing sexual misconduct, including Title IX under the new federal regulations.” 

Therefore, Ohio State will continue to:

  • Address complaints of all sexual misconduct involving students, faculty or staff regardless of the location.
  • Use a preponderance of the evidence standard for all harassment, discrimination and sexual misconduct cases.
  • Expect all university employees, except those exempted by legal privilege of confidentiality or expressly identified as a confidential reporter, to report incidents of sexual assault, and continue to expect human resources professional, supervisors, chairs/directors, and faculty members to report all other forms of sexual misconduct.
  • Provide supportive measures (formally referred to as interim measures), which will continue to be available to complainant and respondent.
  • Use the same reporting process to the Office of Institutional Equity.

In order to comply with the new Title IX regulations, other changes to the policy include:

  • The right for students, faculty and staff to participate in a grievance process after filing a formal complaint. The grievance process includes the right to a hearing and to cross-examination or to participate in an informal resolution process, where applicable. A formal complaint, a specific form that requires a signature, must be filed to initiate the grievance process. A formal complaint can be filed by a complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator or another director within the Office of Institutional Equity.
  • The right to an advisor for a complainant or respondent during the hearing and cross-examination. If a party does not have an advisor in a Title IX matter, the university will provide one to conduct cross-examination.
  • The right for a complainant or respondent to appeal as provided under the policy.
  • A new sexual harassment definition, which has been added to adhere to the regulations. Ohio State has also maintained the prior version of sexual harassment, a non-Title IX definition, to meet the requirements of Title VII and the expectations of our campus community. Therefore, Ohio State has two definitions of sexual harassment, Title IX and non-Title IX. The Office of Institutional Equity will assist individuals in determining if reported behavior constitutes Title IX or non-Title IX sexual harassment.

A summary of Title IX is available on the Department of Education website. Summaries of subsequent changes made by Ohio State to its interim Sexual Misconduct policy (1.15) and interim Affirmative Action, Equal Employment Opportunity & Non-Discrimination/Harassment policy (1.10) are available on the OIE website. The full policies are available here and here. The Office of Institutional Equity will begin full revisions of the policies this academic year. In accordance with university procedures, OIE will solicit university-wide feedback as part of the process.

The Office of Institutional Equity is open but working remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak. Anyone needing to report sexual misconduct or request supportive measures should use the online reporting form at equity.osu.edu, call the office at 614-247-5838 or TTY 614-688-8605, or send an email to equity@osu.edu.

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