BYU revises policies to align with new federal Title IX regulations

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Dani Jardine
BYU recently updated its sexual harassment policies to align with the new federal Title IX regulations from the Department of Education. (Camille Baker)

BYU recently updated its sexual harassment policies to align with the new federal Title IX regulations from the Department of Education, according to a Y News email sent last week.

“BYU is dedicated to providing an environment free from all forms of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking on the basis of the sex,” the email reads. “There are many resources available to the campus community as listed on BYU’s Title IX website.”

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the new regulations, called the “Title IX Final Rule,” on May 6. The provisions include a new definition of sexual harassment, secured due process for the accusers and the accused, and changes to the reporting process and school response. These regulations went into effect on Aug. 14.

The rule “extends many new protections against sexual harassment, and strongly safeguards the rights of all students, including the right to due process” and defines sexual harassment to include “sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking, as unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex,” according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Education.

BYU’s new policy indicates that complaints of sexual harassment outside the United States (for example, a BYU study abroad program), complaints of sexual harassment perpetrated by BYU students or employees against non-BYU students, and complaints that combine allegations of sexual harassment with allegations of other forms of misconduct “will be jointly evaluated by the Title IX Coordinator and the Integrity and Compliance Office to ensure the university provides an appropriate response under the Nondiscrimination and Equal Opportunity Policy, Personnel Conduct Policy, Church Educational System Honor Code, and other applicable policies and procedures of the university.”

BYU’s updated policy applies to anyone participating in “BYU’s Education Program or Activity,” which means all of the school’s operations, including both on-campus locations and off-campus buildings owned or controlled by BYU.

“Off-campus locations that are not subject to substantial control by the university, such as BYU-contracted off-campus housing, are not within BYU’s Education Program or Activity. BYU will consider factors such as whether the university funded, promoted or sponsored the event or circumstances in which the alleged off-campus sexual harassment occurred in determining whether it occurred in BYU’s Education Program or Activity,” the policy reads.

The new rule also requires schools to select one of two standards of evidence, “the preponderance of the evidence standard” or “the clear and convincing evidence standard” for all proceedings.

BYU’s policy indicates the school will use the preponderance of the evidence standard to determine “whether it is more likely than not” that the respondent is responsible for sexual harassment.

The new federal rules also no longer require coaches and athletic trainers to report incidents of sexual misconduct. However, BYU’s updated policy still lists coaches, assistant coaches and athletic trainers as employees who are obligated to report sexual harassment to the Title IX Coordinator.

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