Title IX was created almost 40 years ago with the intention of leveling the playing field for women, particularly in the workplace and educational spaces. In 1972, the world was a lot different for women. Women were routinely harassed, belittled and catcalled in their place of work, and there were very few women’s teams in schools. Because of all the harassment and barriers preventing women from being taken seriously and treated equally, Title IX was enacted.
As far as sexual assault, sexual violence, and sexual harassment go within systems of higher education, it allows universities to investigate and handle allegations within set guidelines. According to the “Dear Colleague” letter, “Title IX requires the school to take immediate action to eliminate the harassment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.” Because these are very broad guidelines, allegations are often met with lenient punishments and leave victims feeling unseen and unheard. Another problem with Title IX investigations is that the burden of proof within institutions is often far less than that of the legal system, which is why it is imperative to have relentless sex crime lawyers on your side.
Title IX Enactment
This legislation leaves room for a lot of interpretation, so ultimately, institutions handle things in their own way to some extent. Some may take the innocent until proven guilty approach, while others may reverse the approach. Some are more lenient according to the position of the accused faculty member or student. But here’s what schools have to enact as stipulated by law:
- Employing a Title IX coordinator as well as an impartial party to investigate and examine any claims brought under the statute.
- Ensuring that the accuser and the accused do not share any living quarters or classes.
- Most of the evidence must show that an assault occurred in order to find the accused responsible for the assault and punishment rendered.
The Criminal Justice System
Within the criminal justice system, sex crimes are taken very seriously. Accusers have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an assault occurred. The standard of evidence is also very different between the two. The standard punishment that is deemed fair is a year-long suspension from the school, rarely is it expulsion. The standard of punishment is also not on par with criminal codes. The justice system is presided over by judges, but the impartial parties that investigate Title IX claims act as the judge and jury. There is no oversight committee or rules to help them exercise their powers. When compared to the criminal justice system, which is far more standardized, the problems with punishment and investigations become more apparent.
But the biggest problem with Title IX is its age. It is in serious need of a fine-toothed combing, to help it better serve both the accuser and the accused. With all of the headlines showcasing the many ignored and improperly handled Title IX cases, revictimized victims, psychological trauma, and more, there is no question that the law needs to be reexamined and revised.