April 26, 2019

Title IX Researchers Seek Input from Higher Ed Ombuds

Doug Yarn and Tim Hedeen have forwarded a request for assistance from college and university Ombuds regarding Title IX. Yarn is a Professor of Law and Director of the Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution at Georgia State University College of Law. Hedeen, a frequent IOA speaker, is a Professor of Conflict Management and  University Ombudsman at Kenessaw State University. As laid out in their letter, they are interested to learn how the changing guidance from Dept of Education Office of Civil Rights—from the "Dear Colleague" letter to the proposed revisions—has affected Ombuds work:
Dear colleagues,

We're writing a scholarly (hopefully) article on the evolving university policies emerging from the intersection of Title IX with campus sexual assault.

In our view, many institutions of higher education may have overreacted to the 2011 Dear Colleague letter and the accompanying Q&A issued by the DOE’s Office of Civil Rights. Many of the resulting campus policies undermined the confidential functions of ombuds offices and restricted access to informal processes, including those with a possibility of restorative justice elements.

Although we cannot prove this empirically, we believe this also discouraged reporting by victims of sexual misconduct on campus. Ironically, recent actions by the DOE, including the proposed regulations, may provide an interesting opportunity for ombuds offices to reverse these policies and provide better services for victims and others involved in campus sexual misconduct.

We understand these policies have made some of you designated reporters for Clery Act purposes and responsible employees for sexual harassment/Title IX reporting, while some of you are not. We're curious as to how your respective institutions determined your status in this regard. We’d also like to know whether or not you anticipate your status changing under the new DeVos regulations.

If you could spare us a moment, we would love to talk to you about this. We would also like to have a current version or past version of your campus policies on sexual misconduct that directly affect your role with respect to these incidents and Title IX.

Lastly, with appropriate attention to confidentiality and anonymity in mind, we would love to hear how you navigate this area as an ombudsperson--have you felt constrained from offering options you believe would be appropriate, but for restrictive policies? Our phone numbers and emails are below. We would love to hear from you in the coming weeks.

Thanks very much,

Doug and Tim

Doug Yarn
Georgia State University College of Law
dyarn @ gsu .edu

Tim Hedeen
Kennesaw State University
tkhedeen @ kennesaw .edu
Related posts: Harvard Law Case Study Focuses on Ombuds and the 'Dear Colleague Letter'IOA Takes a Stand on Title IX Issues; Watch Senator Question White House Title IX Expert on Role of Campus Ombuds; IOA Releases Memo Providing Legal Grounds for Ombuds Confidentiality in Title IX Matters; IOA Compiles Title IX Resources; IOA Surveys Higher Education Ombuds Confidentiality for Clery Act & Title IX Matters; U.S. Department of Education Suggests Mediation an Option for Title IX Complaints; IOA Posts First Press ReleaseInternational Ombudsman Association Comments on Proposed Title IX Changes.

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