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In 1972, Congress enacted the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act, which is commonly known as Title IX. Under the law, schools that receive federal funding are required to protect their students from sexual violence, discrimination, and harassment, which means they must investigate claims of sexual misconduct. If a university doesn’t live up to these standards, it could lose its federal funding. During President Joe Biden’s campaign, he promised to strengthen Title IX to support students who report sexual assault. An executive order recently signed by Biden might change how colleges and universities handle sexual misconduct. An excerpt from the executive order is below. 

“President Biden will sign an Executive Order that will direct the Department of Education (ED) to review all of its existing regulations, orders, guidance, and policies to ensure consistency with the Biden-Harris Administration’s policy that students be guaranteed education free from sexual violence. It also directs ED to specifically evaluate the Title IX regulation issued under the previous administration and agency action taken pursuant to that regulation, to determine whether the regulation and agency action are consistent with the policies of the Biden-Harris Administration.”

Examples of Title IX Violations

If a school’s Title IX office fails to properly investigate and share information with proper authorities after students report any of the below offenses, it may be guilty of a violation.  

  • Gender discrimination 
  • Offensive behavior
  • Sexism 
  • Unwanted sexual behavior
  • Verbal and physical sexual advances
  • Sexual violence

While Title IX has been in force for decades, activists have expressed dissatisfaction in recent years after former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos revised Title IX rules. The new regulations further protected those accused of sexual violence in a move widely condemned by victim rights advocates. With Biden directing the Department of Education to reevaluate Title IX regulations, victims of sexual abuse may have an easier time reporting their experience to universities and colleges. 

Sexual assault on college campuses is, unfortunately, common. 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted while in college, and up to 6% of men will experience sexual violence. Only 12% of college students who are victims of sexual abuse report the crime to law enforcement, and when students do report, the results can be discouraging. 

Research conducted by political advocacy group Know Your IX found that students were threatened with defamation lawsuits and even felt suicidal after sharing their stories with university officials. Even though federally funded schools are legally required to have a Title IX coordinator who ensures rules are being followed, some institutions still fall short of giving victims the resources they need after they come forward. In 2019, Michigan State University was fined $4.5 million due to a “systemic failure to protect students from sexual abuse.” Michigan State was cited for violating the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to report and disclose crimes on campus. Some universities still fall short, and Biden’s order could transform how schools treat these complaints. 

D’Arcy Johnson Day attorneys are experienced in handling sexual abuse claims in the New Jersey, New York and Philadelphia areas. We can help you navigate Title IX and discuss your options. If you’ve experienced a Title IX violation or another form of sexual abuse, contact us online or call (609) 641-6200 or toll-free (866) 327-2952 for a free consultation. 

See Our Full Legal Guide to Sexual Abuse
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