Many Title IX disputes on college campuses, especially those involving sexual assault charges, are resulting in lawsuits by student families aimed at universities. Most campus investigations, advised by the governmental “dear colleague” letters, use a weak preponderance of evidence standard for determining guilt, in contrast to the clear and convicting evidence needed in criminal court. As a consequence, both organizations and individuals are being falsely accused or convicted in some cases due to hearsay or lack of due process in investigating these claims.
Your right to due process and a fair trial should never be compromised, and is necessary to protect both the accused and the victim. Due process acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the Government outside the sanction of law.
Title IX of the Education Amendments enacted in 1972 states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
Recently, Title IX has been used as a tool for the government to influence various institutions’ disciplinary procedures in response to the rise of sexual assault on college campuses. In 2011, the Office of Civil Rights distributed “dear colleague” letters, advising universities to convict those accused of sexual assault on the basis of the “preponderance” of evidence rather than clear and convicting facts, or a supporting investigation. These letters are supposedly intended to simply guide universities on their policies. However, the letters include mandates in order to push institutions to enact these guidelines.
Multiple groups of law practitioners have recently spoken out on the topic, denouncing the Office of Civil Rights guidelines and declaring them to be unconstitutional. According to a public letter issued by a group of 21 law professors, “Through a series of subsequent directives and enforcement actions, OCR has steadily expanded the definition of sexual harassment and imposed a growing range of responsibilities on colleges to curb such conduct. As a result, free speech and due process on campus are now imperiled.”