Despite Betsy DeVos’s rescinding of several different pieces of guidance for Title IX, Knox College’s Title IX policies will not undergo any changes. According to Title IX Coordinator Kim Schrader, the process will still be prompt and equitable and legally compliant to all guidance and state laws in effect.
DeVos revoked the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and the 2014 Q&A Document, which were two pieces of guidance put in place under the Obama administration. However, the guidance never underwent the proper steps to become legislation, so it was easily repealed and replaced with a new Q&A Document on Sept. 22, which reverts back to the guidance put in place in 2001.
According to this guidance, schools can choose which evidentiary standard they will choose to implement in their policies: the preponderance of evidence or clear and convincing evidence. Preponderance of evidence, according to Schrader, only needs a slim margin of evidence for a ruling to be made. Clear and convincing needs a larger amount of evidence in order to find somebody guilty of violating policies.
“I think that part of the shift has been in making sure that Title IX is enforcing equity to everyone who is involved in the process, so there are some people who believe that having a higher evidentiary standard is a more equitable way to determine whether or not a policy has been violated; there are people who believe it should be the lowest possible standard based on the type of offense that it is,” Schrader said.
However, Knox adheres to the Illinois Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act, which requires colleges to use the preponderance of evidence standard in their policies. In that regard, the policies won’t change.
They will also still be prompt and equitable, in accordance to the Clery Act and the Illinois Preventing Seuxal Violence in Higher Education Act.
In relation to the campus climate and attitude, Schrader doesn’t see DeVos’s actions as changing anything. Title IX’s core values have not changed.
“I have a hard time believing that the core mandates of Title IX will ever be erased and I’m not sure that’s a world I want to live in if those core mandates are ever erased,” she said. “I think it’s incumbent on us to create the culture we want to be a part of and for us that remains respectful which people do have the right to an environment that is free from discrimination and harassment. I feel like that’s the culture that we are working to build and to be a part of.”