Title IX – keeping students safe

Two recent articles about Title IX and its role in forcing universities to respond fully and respectfully to students’ claims of sexual assault. The first announces the University of Colorado’s hiring of a Title IX Adviser and a half-time sexual assault prevention staff person as part of the terms of their settlement with Lisa Simpson, a CU student who was raped at a football recruiting party. Nancy Hogshead-Makar will be reviewing all of the school’s current policies for Title IX compliance and making suggestions for changes to better protect all students at the school.

The second article reviews some of the implications for other public universities of a Washington state court’s ruling that a student who was raped by a UW football player and discouraged by school staff from reporting the incident or pressing charges can sue the school under Title IX. Although that decision is not binding in any other state, it does suggest the potential for Title IX to be used by other plaintiffs in cases like this where the school was clearly indifferent to the student’s rights to an education without discrimination based on her sex.

Such lawsuits will probably remain uncommon, but they do increase the risks for universities who try to “solve” a sexual assault problem by sweeping it under the rug. For more on Title IX see here and here. For more on the UW decision, see here.