The passage of the New York State Education Law that’s being called “Enough is Enough” means that all private colleges and universities in the state must amend their Title IX policies (“codes of conduct”) to incorporate the requirements of the new law, or risk losing state aid and assistance. A certificate of compliance with the provisions of the statute must be filed annually with the Education Department commencing on or before July 1, 2016. In addition, each institution must file its amended code of conduct with the state by July 1, 2016, and thereafter every ten years.
The stated purpose of the new law is to reduce the incidence of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking on campuses statewide. Toward this goal, institutions of higher learning must, among other things, adopt policies stating that the affirmative consent of both parties is required for sexual activity and that there will be amnesty for students who report sexual assault/violence that occurred while they were violating policies on drug and alcohol use. Institutions must also annually distribute to all students a “Students’ Bill of Rights” that informs victims of sexual violence of their legal rights, including their right to disclose the sexual assault/violence to both the school and outside law enforcement agencies such as the state police.
The law requires schools to provide numerous other disclosures to students who report (“reporting individuals”) sexual assault/violence. Institutions are also now required to make at least annual “campus climate assessments” to gauge the general awareness of the new law’s requirements. This will be done by anonymous questionnaires and the results published on the school website. Each school must also adopt an ongoing education campaign, consistent with the Clery Act and the Violence Against Women Act, to train all first year and transfer students on a number of topics concerning sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
The law is complex and detailed. The importance of timely and full compliance with it cannot be overstated, as state financial aid is at stake. Sholes & Miller has many years of experience in investigating all types of Title IX complaints on campus, involving students, faculty and employees. We can assist colleges and universities in rewriting their policies so as to be in compliance with the law, in providing Title IX training, and in investigating Title IX complaints.
– Sarah E. Sholes