The George Washington University is reviewing new Title IX regulations from the U.S Department of Education, which specify how universities must respond to allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
“We have always placed a high value on fair processes for all members of our community,” said Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement Caroline Laguerre-Brown. “We understand that concerns have been raised that some of the new requirements may discourage individuals from coming forward with allegations of sexual misconduct. The university remains committed to supporting and promoting the well-being of our community.
“We will continue to encourage individuals to report allegations of sexual misconduct so that they can be promptly and fairly investigated and appropriate action can be taken if substantiated. We will also continue to provide an array of support and services to individuals who choose not to file a formal complaint.”
GW currently employs a single-investigator model in which a trained member of the Title IX office conducts investigations and issues findings, with both parties given the option to appeal the decision. The new rules will require bifurcation of the process, with one person conducting the investigation and another responsible for issuing findings. The new rules also require universities to hold live hearings, with cross-examination by an advisor of the party’s choosing.
“The new regulations will require changes, but key features of our office will remain the same,” said Director of the Title IX Office and the university’s Title IX Coordinator Rory Muhammad. “Today we do comprehensive and fair investigations, and under the new regulations we will continue to do comprehensive and fair investigations,” Mr. Muhammad said. “Today, community members can obtain support and services even if there is no formal complaint, and that will still be the case.”
The university will engage various campus constituencies about the new regulations and their impact on university policies in the coming weeks.