Working in partnership to provide deeper understanding of federal regulations on Title IX, Northwestern University officials met with students for a panel event Jan. 11 to discuss proposed changes and pave the way for students to voice their concerns.
Changes to the law could have a profound effect on students who report or are accused of sexual misconduct and institutional liability, participants said.
Taking part in the panel, Associate Vice President for Equity Sarah K. Wake hailed the event as a great collaboration.
"Northwestern students are thoughtfully engaged on this very important topic," Wake said. "They organized a great event with the dual purpose of education and action, which the Office of Equity gladly supported."
Northwestern shares the Department of Education's commitment to providing a fair process to all parties.
Panelists and students met during the 60-day comment window in which the public is invited to share feedback with the U.S. Department of Education. That period ends Jan. 28. Students then took part in a comment-writing workshop led by Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation and Life Span, a Chicago-area organization that serves victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Wake also noted several positive aspects to the proposed new regulations.
"The University shares the Department of Education's stated commitment to providing a fair process to all parties involved in the sexual misconduct investigation and adjudication process," she said. "However, certain portions of the proposed regulations appear potentially harmful to any student involved in a sexual misconduct investigation. The proposed regulations also seemingly favor students with the means to hire an attorney to guide them through the process."
The event was hosted by Associated Student Government (ASG), the Office of Equity, the Center for Awareness, Response and Education (CARE), Norris University Center, Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators (SHAPE) and Men Against Rape and Sexual Assault.
"The panelists brought a perfect balance of history, practical policy knowledge and professional perspectives," said Emily Ash, ASG president and one of the event's organizers. "They sparked an empowering session in which I truly feel students felt both informed and supported in expressing how these guideline changes could impact their experiences at Northwestern and beyond."
The University is considering its own response to the proposed changes as part of the public comment process.