UPD: New Title IX Guidance Won’t Impact Assault Investigations
Title IX changes will not change how University at Albany administration conducts on-campus sexual assault probe procedures.
The federal change made by the Department of Education on Sept. 22 offers a “new guidance,” a question and answer form. Higher education can now address administrative policies in conducting a sexual assault investigation.
Chantelle Cleary, assistant vice president for Equity and Compliance and Title IX coordinator, said that the new standard gives universities the choice in how to handle sexual assault cases.
Cleary noted that the new guidance does not lead to any distinctive changes in the way UAlbany currently conducts administrative investigations.
Paul Burlingame, deputy chief of the University Police Department, agrees.
“I don’t see that as terribly different from our old standard,” he said. “‘Preponderance’ is not that far off from ‘clear and convincing’ and I don’t see it having that big of an impact in the process.”
In early September, Betsy DeVos, United States Secretary of Education, made a speech at George Mason University in which she made a critique about Title IX under the Obama Administration. The main topic of discussion was if there was a one-sided investigation process for individuals accused of sexual violence against another person due to a potential lack of due process.
Burlingame pointed out that the two processes that come about within a reporting is administrative versus criminal. The criminal standard of UPD has not changed since the federal change. All procedures are exhausted within ongoing investigations that are reported to the department.
He defines this as a “burden-of-proof change.”
UAlbany already affords those involved in an investigative report due process, an administrative process where victims and those accused are both provided an in-depth investigation. This process gives both parties the right to know the evidence that is against them to make a statement, and to respond to opposing statements.
Many colleges including The University of Colorado Boulder, California State Universities, and Bentley University have made statements announcing to maintain current guidelines.
With this specific topic going viral, there has been a new stage of awareness on how sexual assault is defined.
Burlingame pointed out that there has been an increase in the amount of sexual assaults being reported on campus this school year. Although, this does not mean that the rate at which sexual assaults are still occurring has changed.
“The rate of reporting is giving us an opportunity to help victims, apprehend perpetrators, and separate people from the university that pose a danger to the university community. So, the rate of reporting is all positive for us.” said Burlingame.
Once a report is sent to UPD, they either send it to Cleary or to the District Attorney’s Office.
This emphasizes the role administrations have in handling the resolutions of a case and is why the Title XI changes do not affect UPD.