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title_ix-definitions

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Title IX Definitions

The Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights – This 1992 law states that victims of sexual assault have certain basic rights that need to be honored by higher education institutions, such as being notified about resources available to them. It is part of the Clery Act .

Clery Act – This is “the landmark federal law, originally known as the Campus Security Act, that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses,” as summarized on the Clery Center for Security on Campus webpage (http://clerycenter.org/summary-jeanne-clery-act).

Complainant – The accusing student, plaintiff or “victim,” although it is usually best to avoid the last two terms, as they can cause perceptions of blame versus innocence and are more suitable for the criminal justice system.

Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) – The most recent DCL was issued in April 2011 and focused on handling reports of sexual harassment, assault and violence as forms of discrimination covered under Title IX (www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201104.html).

The Deliberate Indifference Standard – The failure of a school authority to respond to and address reported discrimination.

ED – Abbreviation for the U.S. Department of Education, which “is the agency of the federal government that establishes policy for, administrators and coordinates most federal assistance to education” as described on its “Overview” site (www2.ed.gov/about/overview/focus/what.html). Congress created this Cabinet-level agency in 1979 and it contains several offices, one of which is the Office for Civil Rights that oversees Title IX.

FERPA – The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which is “a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records” as described on the ED website (www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fbco/ferpa/index.html).

Grievance Procedures – This term refers to the process of investigating a person’s complaint, or grievance.

Incapacitation – When a person is in a state or condition in which they are unable to make sound decisions. This can be due to alcohol, drug use or mental disability.

OCR – Abbreviation for the Office for Civil Rights within ED. Its stated mission is to “ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights,” according to its website (www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html).

Preponderance of Evidence Standard – This is a burden of proof in which it is determined to be more likely than not, or at least 51% certain, that the violation has in fact occurred.

“Reasonable Person” Perspective Standard - NOLO’s Legal Dictionary website (www.nolo.com/dictionary/reasonable-person-term.html) describes this as “a legal standard” based on the perspective of a hypothetical person who “behaves in a way that is legally appropriate.” In considering a case, this view is used to determine if most people would find the claimant’s account equally offensive.

Respondent – The accused student, defendant or alleged perpetrator. Although the DCL of 2011 uses the latter term, higher education attorneys recommend the word “respondent” instead to avoid confusion with the terms used in criminal system proceedings.

Responsible Employees – Any college or university staff members (whether from the faculty or administration) to whom students are likely to report a sexual misconduct incident. Responsible employees must make sure to relay this information accordingly to the Title IX coordinator(s).

Sexual Discrimination – According to the U.S. Department of Education’s “Sex Discrimination: An Overview of the Law” website (www2.ed.gov/policy/rights/guid/ocr/sexoverview.html), “Examples of the types of discrimination that are covered under Title IX include sexual harassment; the failure to provide equal opportunity in athletics; discrimination in a school’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses and programs; and discrimination based on pregnancy.”

Sexual Harassment – The 2011 DCL states that “sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

Sexual Violence – According to the DCL, “Sexual violence, as that term is used in this letter, refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent due to the victim’s use of drugs or alcohol. An individual also may be unable to give consent due to an intellectual or other disability. A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual batter, and sexual coercion. All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sexual harassment covered under Title IX.”

Title IX – “Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities which receive Federal financial assistance,” as described on the ED’s OCR website (www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/tix_dis.html).

Title IX Coordinator – This is the staff member with the responsibility for overseeing Title IX training efforts and investigations at his or her institution. At some colleges or universities, there will be one coordinator; at others, there will be several, in the forms of deputy coordinators. Coordinators do not have to investigate all complaints but need to be aware of each one and how it is being investigated and addressed.

2001 Guidance – This refers to the OCR’s “Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties” from January 19, 2001, available at www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/shguide.html.

Sex Offenses – Forcible
*Definitions from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) Edition of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program
Any Sexual act directed against another person, forcible and/or against that person’s will; or not forcibly or against the person’s will where the victim is incapable of giving consent.

  1. Forcible Rape – The carnal knowledge of a person, forcibly and/or against the person’s will; or not forcibly or against the person’s will where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity (or because of his/her youth).
  2. Forcible Sodomy – Oral or anal sexual intercourse with another person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will; or not forcibly against the person’s will where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her youth or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
  3. Sexual Assault with an Object – The use of an object or instrument to unlawfully penetrate, however slightly, the genital or anal opening of the body of another person, forcibly and/or against that person’s will; or not forcibly or against the person’s will where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her youth or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity.
  4. Forcible Fondling – The touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, forcibly and/or against that person’s will; or, not forcibly or against the person’s will where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her youth or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity.
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