According to a recent study that looked at 27 different universities, 21% of senior undergraduates reported having been a victim of non-consensual sexual contact while attending college. University responses to sexual harassment and assault on campus continue to be guided by Title IX of The Education Amendment Act of 1972.
For nearly 50 years, Title IX has been used to set up compliance offices and programs at campuses across the nation. The amendment has paved the way for the implementation of mechanisms to report discrimination based on sex, as well as complaints about “nonconsensual sexual contact” and even sexual innuendos and off-color comments.
The result has often been that the person accused of the misconduct is dragged before a Title IX hearing, where a mere “preponderance of evidence” can land that person (either faculty member or student) in various forms of hot water, up to and including dismissal from the institution.
If you are facing a Title IX hearing for sexual misconduct in Oakland, California, or anywhere in the surrounding areas of San Francisco County or Alameda County, contact my firm, the Darryl A. Stallworth Law Office. I can review your case with you, educate you on all of your legal options, and prep you for the hearing so that you can represent yourself against a system that is often stacked in favor of the complainant.
What Is Title IX?
As mentioned earlier, Title IX is a section of the Education Amendment Act of 1972. Title IX states in part that, "no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
Title IX also includes prohibitions against sexual harassment that could negatively affect a student’s “participation in” and “benefits of” education at any level — but it has become particularly prominent on college and university campuses.
Title V of the California Code of Regulations likewise prohibits sexual harassment when it, “unreasonably disrupts an individual’s educational or work environment or that creates a hostile educational or work environment.”
Often, accusations can stem from actual incidents of sexual harassment, but at other times, allegations might be of the “day after” variety. A college or university student who has second thoughts about a sexual encounter can easily drag his or her partner before a Title IX hearing, where dismissal can hang in the balance — though the result is often counseling and sexual harassment courses.
What Is a Title IX Hearing?
First, let’s begin with some definitions. The University of California (UC) Title IX compliance system defines the person making the allegation as the “complainant” and the person being accused as the “respondent.”
The UC system begins the process of reviewing a complaint by conducting an investigation by the campus Title IX Office. The appointed investigator will determine — based on a “preponderance of evidence,” rather than evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” — what happened and whether the allegations can be substantiated.
If one party objects to the findings, a hearing will ensue. The hearing does not include a “jury of one’s peers,” nor does it allow either party — complainant or respondent — to question the other party or the other party’s witnesses. All questions must be submitted to the hearing officer, who will decide whether or not to ask them.