On Aug. 14, Columbia revised its sexual misconduct policies in response to a number of changes to Title IX federal regulations that drastically rolled back protections for students. Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that prohibits sexual discrimination—including sexual harassment and sexual violence—in federally-funded educational institutions.
The University announced a new Interim Title IX Policy while revising the scope of its existing Gender-Based Misconduct Policy, both of which are administered by Student Conduct and Community Standards. The interim Title IX policy only addresses behavior falling under new federal Title IX regulations, namely “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” behavior on University-owned or controlled property in the United States. This includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking.
In order to remedy the limited coverage of the new federal regulations, the University has updated its gender-based misconduct policy to cover misconduct falling outside the jurisdiction of the new Title IX regulations. This includes alleged misconduct that occurs off campus and outside of the United States with complainants unaffiliated with the University and misconduct that is unwanted even if it is not considered as “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive.” Such acts include sexual exploitation, gender-based harassment, retaliation, and creation of a hostile environment.
Separate resolution processes and different hearing procedures have been established for the two policies. Reports that fall under the interim Title IX policy are reviewed through an interim Title IX investigation and hearing procedure, while allegations under the gender-based misconduct policy are reviewed through the gender-based misconduct investigation and hearing panel.
Students do not need to know which policy applies to file a report. If the respondent is a Barnard student, Barnard’s own policy against discrimination and harassment applies and reports can be made through Barnard’s information report form. Otherwise, reports can be made through the “Discrimination, Harassment, Gender-Based Misconduct” referral form on the Sexual Respect website or on the websites of University Life, Student Conduct and Community Standards, or Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. Alternatively, reports can also be filed by writing an email to the Title IX Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new interim Title IX specialized panel involves live cross-examination by each party’s advisor and supervision by a hearing chair and hearing panel, and when appropriate, the Title IX coordinator assigned to the case. Advisors are chosen by the complainant and may be an attorney. The hearing chair will be a non-SCCS affiliate, and the hearing panel will be formed by two members from SCCS or EOAA. The EOAA supports students in cases where alleged misconduct involves allegations of a Columbia employee. Expert witnesses may also be brought in to be interviewed, and the entire hearing will be recorded and transcribed.
The gender-based misconduct investigation and hearing panel will only be adjudicated by an investigative team, and advisors are not allowed to directly address the panel for cross-examination, nor can they submit evidence, question witnesses, or make objections. This panel will not be recorded or transcribed.
Allegations that fall under both policies will be investigated and adjudicated under the interim Title IX investigation and hearing procedure.
If found responsible for violating either policy, sanctions will be imposed depending on the nature of the violation.
Detailed definitions of each misconduct and procedures regarding the resolution processes can be found in the official policy.