Dear Members of the Yale Community,
In May, we wrote to you about the U.S. Department of Education’s new Title IX regulations, which go into effect on August 14. Since that time, we have been working with colleagues at Yale and across the country to understand the full implications of these federal requirements for the way educational institutions address sexual misconduct under Title IX.
We write today to update you on how Yale will implement the new federal rules in its procedures for investigating and adjudicating formal complaints. First and foremost, we remain committed to a process that both complies with the law and reflects the input, experiences, and principles of our community. We will continue to prioritize educational programs for prevention and to raise awareness of sexual misconduct and of university resources for support.
Accordingly, we have maintained many features that have formed the foundation of our response to sexual misconduct in the past. For example, all conduct that was prohibited under Yale’s previous policies is still prohibited, our definition of affirmative consent is unchanged, and our standard of proof in formal proceedings remains a preponderance of the evidence. Additionally, nothing in the regulations or in our policies going forward will diminish Title IX coordinators’ ability to provide supportive measures and accommodations to members of our community who have been affected by sexual misconduct. In addition, none of the changes will have an impact on the SHARE Center’s provision of confidential counseling and advice.
To accommodate changes in federal regulations, Yale has revised the procedures used by the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct (UWC) to address formal complaints. For example, prior to a hearing, parties will have access to a larger body of evidence. A hearing officer with legal training will sit with members of the UWC to run the federally mandated hearing process and help decide cases.
Some members of our community have expressed concerns that the formal procedures required by the new federal rules could dissuade individuals from seeking the support and accommodation that are essential to the purpose of Title IX. We are addressing this potential problem both by strengthening existing resources, including services provided by Title IX coordinators and SHARE, and by exploring alternative models of resolving sexual misconduct complaints, such as restorative justice processes and, where appropriate, mediated resolutions.
Like other universities across the country, our community has implemented the requirements of the new regulations during a challenging time in which we have all been grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure that we are being as careful as possible, we will adjust aspects of our procedures as we learn from experience and hear your views. (Please send your perspectives and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
We remain committed to our community-centered approach not only in optimizing the fairness and effectiveness of Yale’s sexual misconduct procedures but also in striving to prevent the occurrence of behavior that harms our colleagues and students and is antithetical to the mission of our university. We invite you to review the revised procedures and to provide comments and suggestions to Yale’s Title IX Office (email@example.com). We also encourage you to participate in activities that will be scheduled in the upcoming academic year to share ideas on how we can combat sexual misconduct. It is only by working together that we can create and maintain a campus where everyone feels safe and respected and can take advantage of all that Yale has to offer.
Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology
Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Academic Integrity
University Title IX Coordinator