Gender-Based Misconduct: New Title IX Regulations and Columbia's Commitment

August 17, 2020

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community,

We are writing to let you know about Columbia’s updated gender-based misconduct policies for students, faculty, and staff, now in place in response to regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education in May. These regulations have been the subject of substantial controversy, so we take this opportunity to share information that will be of interest.

Although the new rules required some changes to our existing processes, the University’s core commitment remains the same: for Columbia to be a community where all can thrive free from the harms of gender-based misconduct and discrimination. The focus on prevention will continue, including the Sexual Respect and Community Citizenship Initiative for students, together with trainings, programming, and supportive resources for all in our community.

First, some reminders about our resources and how to report concerns:

Notwithstanding the new federal requirements, the University’s policies, developed in consultation with students, faculty, and staff from across the campus, maintain crucial continuity in these ways:

  • All types of gender-based misconduct are prohibited at Columbia, both on and off campus.
  • Faculty and staff are responsible for connecting students who may have experienced gender-based misconduct to our resources by reporting incidents via the Sexual Respect or University Life websites or to titleix@columbia.edu.
  • Specially trained staff in SCCS and EOAA provide individualized assistance to help students, faculty, and staff understand the options available for addressing concerns and incidents, as well as supportive resources on and off campus.
  • Supportive measures, such as no-contact directives, housing changes for students, and other accommodations, continue to be available with or without a formal complaint.
  • Mediation and other non-disciplinary resolutions will continue to be available when appropriate.   

Some changes as required by the new regulations have been made. These include:

  • Students now have two policies that apply to gender-based misconduct. One is the traditional Gender-Based Misconduct Policy, and the other is the new Interim Title IX Policy. Both address sexual assault, stalking, dating and domestic violence, and sexual harassment. The Interim Title IX Policy covers certain types of gender-based misconduct on campus, including acts of sexual harassment that are considered “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” under the Department of Education regulations. Incidents that fall within this policy will have specialized procedures for investigation and hearings. The Gender-Based Misconduct Policy, as always, covers a broader range of misconduct, including gender-based misconduct that takes place away from campus. You can learn more on the Sexual Respect website.
  • Faculty and staff are covered by the updated EOAA Policies and Procedures that similarly retain many familiar procedures for most gender-based misconduct cases and have new procedures, including hearings, for the most severe types of sexual harassment that are covered by the new regulations. Please see the EOAA website for more detailed information.
  • The new regulations require certain cases for students, faculty, and staff to include a specialized hearing in which a representative of each individual asks questions of others involved in the case in the form of cross-examination. These hearings will be presided over by a Hearing Panel Chair who will participate in the adjudication of these cases to make certain that only relevant evidence is considered, while ensuring a respectful and fair process.   

Whether under new or familiar procedures, the University is deeply committed to maintaining processes that are sensitive to the issues involved.

As the new academic year begins, you will have an opportunity to join a briefing with Marjy Fisher, the University’s Title IX Coordinator, Jeri Henry, Vice Provost for Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, Kevin Pitt, Associate Vice President for Student Conduct and Community Standards, and other leaders of Columbia’s gender-based harassment prevention and response efforts. Should you have questions in the meantime, please send them to the University’s Title IX team at titleix@columbia.edu.

Thank you for your time and attention to this most important matter.

With appreciation,
Ira and Suzanne

 

Ira Katznelson
Interim Provost
Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History 


Suzanne B. Goldberg
Executive Vice President for University Life
Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law