I notified the community on May 6, 2020 that the U.S. Department of Education released its final rule under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance. This rule takes effect on August 14, 2020. As I shared in May, Dartmouth is required to make necessary amendments to our policy and procedures to fulfill the requirements of the final rule.
Below, we have posted the proposed amendments to the Dartmouth Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy (SMP) and the processes for resolving complaints. In accordance with our amendment procedures, any Dartmouth community member is invited to review and comment on the proposed amendments over the next thirty days. Below, you will find these documents as well as a form for you to share your opinions and suggestions. Additionally, over the next thirty days, I will hold several open Zoom meetings to present on the changes as well as hear and respond to your questions. Dates and times are listed below and registration is required.
I want to convey that these proposed amendments, required by the Department of Education, contain some changes that many in our community may have questions about. The final rule defines sexual harassment in a specific and limited way, which we have called Title IX Prohibited Conduct in the proposed amendments. It also specifies when institutions are obligated to respond to allegations of sexual harassment and when institutions must dismiss those allegations as not meeting the requirements of the final Title IX rule.
At Dartmouth, we believe that the best learning environment is one that is safe, welcoming and respectful, regardless of the geographic location in which you are participating in Dartmouth's education program. We also believe that the definition of sexual harassment provided by the Department of Education does not adequately capture the experiences that have been reported to our office over the past few years. To that end, our amended Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy will address both the Title IX Prohibited Conduct as defined by the Department of Education, but also more broadly defined Prohibited Conduct aligned with the current definitions in the SMP.
The final rule also provides specific requirements for resolution procedures. Dartmouth will select the appropriate resolution process to use in a given situation based on the nature of the reported conduct, the geographic location in which it occurs, and the role of the Respondent. Each process, however, incorporates important procedural protections and a robust investigation and hearing process that is designed to be fair, impartial, prompt and equitable. One notable change is the requirement for live cross-examination of parties in a hearing regarding Title IX Prohibited Conduct. Dartmouth will work with Advisors to prepare them and the parties they support in the hearing, as well as provide parameters for the cross-examination to help parties feel their interests are fairly represented.
Title IX has experienced many changes prompted by the Department of Education over the past nine years, and I know it can be hard to keep track. However, our commitment to the community has not changed and we remain ready to support all parties, explain options, and assist with a resolution that ensures fairness and continued access to education.
It is important to include community review and feedback and we invite students, faculty and staff to review the documents and comment below with their reflections on the proposed amendments. All comments will be received by the Title IX Office and reviewed. Your comment may be anonymous.
Kristi Clemens, M. Ed.
Title IX Coordinator and Acting Senior Director, Institutional Diversity and Equity