AACC is pleased to provide resources related to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) as it relates to sexual harassment and violence and related issues. Most of the information below concerns Title IX compliance. There is also information pertaining to sexual harassment and violence on campus in general, including prevention strategies, as well as resources for closely related laws and regulations, particularly the Clery Act. These resources are provided for informational purposes only, and their inclusion should not be considered an endorsement by AACC of any specific organization or initiative.
Law, Regulations and Guidance
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
Title IX itself is quite brief, and was originally intended to address gender equity issues as they related to school athletic programs, although the language of the law allows for broader application. This broad language permitted the federal government to take on issues other than athletics under the auspices of Title IX, including sexual harassment, which has long been deemed a form of gender discrimination. Sexual violence, in turn, is considered to be a form of sexual harassment. The Department of Education (ED) has generally addressed these issues through regulation, and in particular sub-regulatory guidance. See the links below for these regulations and the guidance that has been issued on the topic of sexual harassment and violence.
Dept. of Education Office of Civil Rights Main Page – Title IX is overseen and enforced by the ED Office of Civil Rights.
Title IX Regulations – The regulations, like the law they implement, are also fairly brief, and broad enough to apply to a wide range of issues. They lay out the basic compliance standards and processes to be used in achieving them (e.g. designation of a Title IX coordinator). The regulations themselves do not speak directly to sexual harassment and violence.
ED addresses sexual harassment and violence directly in sub-regulatory guidance, most notably in the three instances linked to below. Because this is guidance, the recommendations do not technically have the force of law or regulation, and ED officials have recently made statements underscoring that fact. However, because the guidance is the only medium through which ED has directly addressed the issue of sexual harassment and Title IX, and in some instances the guidance’s language seems mandatory rather than suggestive, many institutions treat the guidance as enforceable requirements. Furthermore, ED enforcement actions have often effectively treated this guidance as mandatory.
Main Guidance Page on Title IX and Sex Discrimination – Here you will find all of the Title IX guidance issued by ED’s OCR, including the guidance linked directly to below.
Most Recent Guidance on Overall Institutional Title IX Responsibilities – This is the most recent communication from OCR relating to the general requirements that institutions must follow to comply with Title IX.
Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties
This 2001 document replaced guidance that was originally released in 1997, and constitutes the first major statement from OCR related to sexual harassment under Title IX.
Guidance on Addressing Sexual Harassment/Sexual Violence (April 4, 2011)
The letter provides guidance and examples about Title IX requirements and how they relate to sexual harassment and sexual violence; discusses proactive efforts schools can take to prevent sexual violence and educate employees and students; and provides examples of the types of remedies schools and OCR may use to respond to sexual violence.
Questions and Answers about Title IX and Sexual Violence (April 29, 2014)
These questions and answers further clarify the legal requirements under Title IX articulated in the April 4, 2011 Dear Colleague letter on Sexual Violence and the January 19, 2001 Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance and provide recommendations for addressing allegations of sexual violence.
ED Clery Act Resources – This page contains a wealth of resources pertaining to the Clery Act, which added provisions to the Higher Education Act (HEA) requiring institutions to report certain information pertaining to crimes on campus and involving their students, including crimes of sexual violence. The Clery Act was most recently amended by the Violence Against Women Act, which added additional reporting requirements for sex crimes. ED subsequently issued regulations implementing those provisions
Current Legislative Proposals
Sexual violence at colleges and universities has been a prominent issue on Capitol Hill in recent years, resulting in the introduction of several bills. Most of this legislation does not amend Title IX directly, but rather would add or change provisions in the HEA, including the Clery Act. What follows is not an exhaustive list, but includes the proposals that have garnered the most attention.
Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA) (S. 590, H.R. 1310) – CASA is the most prominent of the current legislative proposals on this issue, particularly in the Senate, where it has become an important part of HEA reauthorization discussions. The legislation addresses topics such as additional Clery Act reporting, confidential advisors for victims of sexual violence, institutional agreements with local law enforcement, “campus climate” surveys, and more. For more information on the bill, see these resources:
AACC Position on the Campus Accountability and Safety Act – The recommendations in this document are intended to highlight issues that community colleges have with some of the provisions in CASA. It is intended to augment the letter below, to which AACC was a signatory.
Higher Education Community Letter in Response to CASA – This letter, signed by several national higher education associations, provides detailed comments on CASA to the then-leadership of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has jurisdiction over the legislation.
Hogan Lovells CASA Summary – Commissioned by the American Council of Education, this memo drafted by a Washington law firm provides a detailed summary of CASA’s provisions.
Safe Campus Act – H.R. 3403
Fair Campus Act – H.R. 3408
HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act – H.R. 2680
AACC Summary of Safe Campus Act, Fair Campus Act and HALT Campus Sexual Violence Act
The bills linked to above (along with AACC’s summary of them), are other prominent House bills addressing this issue (in addition to the House version of CASA). The Safe and Fair Campus Acts are nearly identical save for one provision, and generally are concerned with issues of due process and the division of responsibilities between educational institutions and police departments when responding to allegations of sexual crimes.
Obama Administration Initiatives
Sexual violence at colleges and universities has been the focus of several Obama administration initiatives to raise public awareness and provide resources for students, institutions and the general public.
Not Alone – An outgrowth of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault launched in early 2014, this site provides a host of resources, including the task force’s report and a resource guide for students, administrators and others to help prevent and better respond to sexual violence at colleges and universities.
It’s On Us – This initiative is focused on raising public awareness, including opportunities for individuals and institutions to pledge to take steps to keep women and men safe from sexual assault.
Department of Justice Resources
USDOJ Office on Violence Against Women – Created in 1985 just after passage of the VAWA, the mission of this office is “to provide federal leadership in developing the national capacity to reduce violence against women and administer justice for and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.” While it is not specific to colleges and universities, the materials at this site and the services offered by the office may prove useful to institutional leaders.
National Institute of Justice – The NIJ is the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice. The agency has done extensive work relating to rape and sexual assault on campus, in particular studies to examine the prevalence of sexual assault on campus. There are also training resources, statistics, and links to other resources.
Center for Changing Our Campus Culture: This site is supported by the Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women in collaboration with its designated Campus Program Technical Assistance Provider Team. This comprehensive online clearinghouse provides important resources for colleges and universities on sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
Know Your IX is a student-oriented initiative that “aims to empower students to end sexual and dating violence in their schools.”
The American Association of University Women has created a campus sexual assault toolkit with resources to help students, faculty, staff and others combat sexual violence on campus. Their site also has information about Title IX for victims of sexual assault.
The American Association for Women in Community Colleges’ website includes that organization’s platform statement to “eliminate a culture of silence surrounding sexual violence.” The AAWCC site also links to the following useful resources:
- Clery Center for Security on Campus: Founded by the parents of Jeanne Clery, for whom the crime reporting legislation is named, the site offers a host of training and education resources relating to campus crime, including crimes of sexual violence.
- Pact5: Pact5 is a grassroots movement that began in the documentary production classes of five universities. Dedicated to stopping rape and sexual assaults in colleges, Pact5 believes that short documentaries produced by students can create powerful stories that can change potentially tragic behavior patterns. The site houses those documentaries and related resources.
Chronicle of Higher Education Title IX Investigation Tracker: This project tracks federal investigations of colleges for possible violations of Title IX involving alleged sexual violence. It includes all investigations in this wave of enforcement: those either open now or resolved since the April 4, 2011 ED “Dear Colleague” letter. The Chronicle has run a number of articles on this topic as well, including this recent examination (subscription required) of the 7 common requirements imposed by ED on institutions through Title IX investigation resolution agreements.
Association for Student Conduct Administration: This organization has a number or resources including this document that explains the unique challenges and opportunities that this issue presents to community colleges.