Title IX is a 1972 federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in schools, colleges, and universities. Other laws, including Title VII, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and Washington State law also prohibit sex and gender discrimination. While Title IX covers all forms of sex discrimination, the term “Title IX” is often used as a short-hand to describe the sub-set of policies, procedures, or programs that specifically address sexual misconduct.
Title IX protects and holds accountable faculty, staff, and students of all genders. The 2020 Department of Education federal regulations require specific sexual misconduct grievance procedures for both employees and students
Yes, as a recipient of federal funding, UW is required to comply with the federal regulations. If a court ruling or federal proceeding results in the rules being enjoined or otherwise changed, UW will shift its policies and procedures as appropriate and allowable.
The federal regulations require UW to address a subset of sexual misconduct allegations using a specific investigation and adjudication process. When alleged conduct does not meet the federal definitions or criteria, other UW policies and procedures may apply. UW will continue to address all complaints of sexual misconduct and will assess formal complaints to determine if UW policy and/or federal regulations apply.
When the federal regulations apply, the adjudication will include a live hearing with oral cross-examination of the parties and witnesses.
The 2020 federal regulations narrow the definition of sexual harassment to include only unwelcome conduct that is so severe, pervasive and objectionably offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University. Beyond sexual harassment, federally defined prohibited conduct includes sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Review the University’s Executive Order 70 or WAC 478-121-605 part VII for full definitions of conduct that is subject to the federal regulations grievance procedures.
In addition to meeting one or more of these definitions, for the federal regulations to apply the conduct must have happened in the US, in conjunction with a UW program or activity, or in a building owned or controlled by UW or a recognized student organization. Finally, the complainant must be a current student, employee, applicant, or otherwise participating in a UW program or activity.
The University of Washington is committed to providing an environment that does not tolerate sex or gender discrimination, including sexual harassment and gender-based violence. UW policies and protocols will remain in place to support this commitment and to affirm the values of equity, access, and fairness.
UW will continue to address all complaints of sexual misconduct and will assess formal complaints to determine if UW policy and/or federal regulations apply. If you make a formal complaint, the investigator will assess which policies may or may not apply, and if an investigation is initiated, what procedures will be used.
Although the 2020 federal regulations apply only to conduct within the United States, University policy depending on context extends to the conduct of UW students and employees outside of the United States. If the conduct would violate University policy, the University will investigate.
The 2020 federal regulations apply to locations, events, or circumstances over which the University exercised substantial control over both the respondent and the place where the conduct occurred. The 2020 federal regulations also apply to any building owned or controlled by a recognized student organization, so the regulations may also apply to conduct in fraternity or sorority houses.
If the criteria is not met for jurisdiction under the 2020 Title IX regulations, the University may still investigate if the conduct would violate other University policy.
If a formal complaint about an employee includes alleged conduct subject to the federal regulations, both parties will receive written notice of the allegations; the University Complaint and Investigation and Resolution Office (UCIRO) will investigate; complainants and respondents will be given access to evidence in advance of a hearing; there will be a hearing in front of a trained decision-maker(s) where parties and witnesses are subject to live oral cross-examination; and the complainant and respondent will have the right to appeal the results of the decision made at the hearing.
Phase I of UW’s two-phase response to the federal regulations focused on coming into compliance by the regulations’ implementation date of August 14. This included an emergency amendment to the Student Conduct Code and an interim executive order. Phase II extend over the 2020-21 academic year and included broader input and participation from students, staff, faculty, and the larger community. This will lead to final UW protocols, policies and code revisions.
The Office of the Title IX Coordinator recently posted an answer to this question. Please view our answer here. We anticipate that a Biden administration will change the 2020 federal Title IX regulations; however, a Biden-run Department of Education will likely need to undergo the same lengthy rulemaking process the Department of Education under the Trump administration did. While this process is ongoing, the University of Washington is still legally required to comply with the 2020 regulations until new ones are issued and go into effect.