Title IX Update Policy and Processes During COVID-19

Dear Members of the GW Community,

On May 6, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education issued new Title IX regulations that outline how colleges and universities must respond to reports of sexual harassment.  The regulations become effective on August 14, 2020.

In general, the new regulations do the following:

  • Clarify that Title IX prohibits sexual harassment, which includes sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and sex-based stalking.
  • Require specific procedures for responding to reports and formal complaints of sexual harassment.
  • Ensure that all parties have access to supportive measures regardless of whether a formal complaint is filed.
  • Require a live-hearing with cross examination to be part of the formal resolution process.
  • In order to comply with the new regulations, the university revised its Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Interpersonal Violence Policy. The revised policy is now titled the “Title IX Sexual Harassment and Related Conduct Policy.” 


Please note that the university’s core principles have not changed:

The George Washington University is committed to maintaining a positive climate for study and work, in which individuals are judged solely on relevant factors, such as skill and performance, and can pursue their activities in an atmosphere that is free from discrimination, harassment, and violence.

  • The university does not discriminate on the basis of sex or gender in any of its education or employment programs or activities.
  • The university will comply with the new Title IX regulations and other applicable laws and regulations.
  • The university will treat everyone who engages with the Title IX Office fairly, equitably, and with respect.

The university’s Title IX Sexual Harassment and Related Conduct Policy defines Sexual Harassment as:

Sexual Harassment means conduct, on the basis of sex, that satisfies one or more of the following:

  • A university employee conditions the provision of an aid, benefit, or service on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct;
  • unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the university’s Programs or Activities;
  • Sexual Assault: formally defined in 20 U.S.C. § 1092(f)(6)(A)(v), means any sexual act directed against another person, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent (such as incapacitation, age, family relation to the other party, or intellectual or other disability).  Sexual Assault can be committed by or against individuals of any sex or gender and can occur between individuals of the same sex/gender or different sexes/genders.  The university will rely on the definition of sexual assault provided in the federal Uniform Crime Reporting system, which includes the following:
    • sexual intercourse with another person, including oral or anal sexual intercourse, or the use of an object or instrument to unlawfully penetrate, however slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, without consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent  because of their age or because of their temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity;
    • touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of their age or because of their temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity;
    • sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law; or
    • sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.

Dating Violence: formally defined in 34 U.S.C. § 12291(a)(1), means any act of violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim and where the existence of such a relationship is determined based on a consideration of the length, type, and frequency of interactions between the persons involved in the relationship.

Domestic Violence: formally defined in 34 U.S.C. § 12291(a)(8), means a felony or misdemeanor crime of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person's acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.

Stalking: formally as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(30), means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.
 

Supportive Measures are available to members of the GW Community regardless of whether a formal complaint is filed.


Supportive Measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services, accommodations, and other assistance that the university may put in place for Complainants, Respondents, and occasionally to third parties, without fee or charge.  Supportive measures are designed to restore or preserve access to the university’s education programs and activities and protect the safety of all parties and the university’s educational environment while not being punitive in nature or unreasonably burdening any party.  

Some examples of supportive measures may include:

  • Facilitating access to counseling and medical services;
  • Guidance in obtaining a sexual assault forensic examination;
  • Assistance in arranging rescheduling of exams and assignments and extensions of deadlines;
  • Academic support;
  • Assistance in requesting long-term academic accommodations through Disability Support Services (DSS) if the individual qualifies as an individual with a disability;
  • Change in class schedule, including the ability to transfer course sections or withdraw from a course;
  • Changes to university work schedules and/or job assignments
  • Mutual No Contact Order


Formal Resolution Process
The formal resolution process provided in the Policy involves a prompt, thorough, equitable, and impartial investigation and hearing to determine whether by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) a policy violation occurred. The Title IX Investigator, not the parties, is responsible for gathering evidence. Among other rights, the parties have an equal opportunity to be interviewed, present relevant evidence, identify witnesses, and have an advisor of their choice, who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney. The Respondent is presumed not responsible and responsibility is determined by a Hearing Officer after a live hearing with cross examination conducted by the parties’ advisors. If the Hearing Officer determines it is more likely than not that a policy violation occurred, the matter is referred to a Disciplinary Authority to determine appropriate sanctions and/or remedies.  Both parties also have the opportunity to submit an appeal, which is reviewed by a separate Appeals Officer.

Alternative Resolution
As an alternative to the formal resolution process, the university's policy also provides for a voluntary, remedies based resolution that may be tailored to the parties’ needs. For example, an alternative resolution may involve providing targeted or broad-based educational programming or training. Alternative resolution is not available to resolve allegations that an employee sexually harassed a student.

Faculty and staff will still be required to report information about sexual harassment to the Title IX Coordinator.
The Title IX Sexual Harassment and Related Conduct Policy will continue to require certain university community members to report information they may learn about alleged or suspected Sexual Harassment to the Title IX Coordinator ("Designated Reporters"). This will help connect individuals who have been impacted by sexual harassment with trained professionals and available support services. For a list of individuals who are deemed Designated Reporters, please see the Title IX Sexual Harassment and Related Conduct Policy.

Title IX in Online Environments
The university's Title IX Sexual Harassment and Related Conduct Policy applies to conduct occurring within a university program or activity, including conduct occurring in online environments and through virtual communications.

The Title IX Office is fully functional and working remotely at this time. Anyone impacted by sexual misconduct is encouraged to contact the Title IX Office to make a report at: TitleIX.gwu.edu. Supportive measures, investigations and all other services will  be conducted virtually to assure that any sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating or domestic violence, stalking, retaliation, or other sexually discriminatory behaviors are addressed promptly.

Please see the following links for more information:
Title IX Sexual Harassment and Related Conduct Policy
Title IX Sexual Harassment and Related Conduct Policy Hearing Procedures
Title IX Sexual Harassment and Related Conduct Policy – Appendices
Frequently Asked Questions
TitleIX.gwu.edu

Contacts


Caroline Laguerre-Brown, JD
Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement

Rory Muhammad
Director and Title IX Coordinator