The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) yesterday released its final Title IX regulations on the issue of sexual misconduct. After an initial review, we are deeply disappointed and concerned; the regulations create new definitions, processes, and procedures that could reverse years of progress in addressing and preventing sexual misconduct on college campuses. The changes are especially disappointing because it appears the Trump administration disregarded input that our community, and others in higher education, provided to the Department of Education. Additionally, the timing of these proposed changes, coming in the midst of a pandemic that is challenging and changing colleges and universities in unprecedented ways, places an additional stress not only on institutions but most importantly on our students, faculty and staff.
Although we are in the process of continuing to review the regulations in detail and considering how each new change will impact our communities, I want to make absolutely clear that the University is committed to preventing and addressing sexual misconduct equitably. Our commitment is unwavering and will continue to inform our response to all legal requirements.
OCR has given colleges and universities until August 14, 2020, to comply with these regulations. We will be taking the next several weeks to thoroughly consider and review the regulations, and we will be thinking carefully about the ways in which we can comply while also ensuring that we maintain a process that is accessible and fair for all our community members. Collaboration with our students, faculty and staff on our efforts is fundamental to our progress in this area and to the success of our compliance efforts.
With this in mind, next week I will convene the members of the Sexual Misconduct Prevention Steering Committee, composed of faculty, staff and students and which I chair, to discuss how the Tufts community can implement these regulations in a way that best fits our community’s needs. As we undertake this work we will be guided by our shared interest in eradicating sexual misconduct at Tufts, supporting survivors and all others affected by sexual misconduct, and maintaining a process that is fundamentally just for all.