April 21, 2021
Title IX professionals knew this was coming. We expected to hear that there would be significant changes yet again in the Title IX world…but that doesn’t make it any less overwhelming.
May 6, 2020 feels like just yesterday. We were all furiously combing through 2000-plus pages of the “new” Title IX regulations and preamble. We found ourselves scrambling to understand the new expectations, asking questions of OCR, and gathering as much information as possible to comply with the looming August 14 deadline. Teams were formed and trained. Policies and procedures were drafted and approved. Campus and school district communities were informed of these sweeping changes. It was an absolute whirlwind. But we made it!
Then, Title IX administrators were able to take a breath, albeit a short one, until the first reports started to trickle in. After receiving reports, Title IX teams have worked to provide appropriate supportive measures, distinguish Title IX behavior from other forms of sexual harassment, and move through a new and taxing formal grievance process…all during a pandemic. To say it has been a lot is a significant understatement. But again, we made it!
Now, here we sit in April 2021 with a new letter from OCR. This one directed to students, educators and other stakeholders, outlining a plan toward possible revisions through a new notice of proposed rulemaking. Feels a bit like déjà vu right? Honestly, it’s this constant shift that makes many people freeze, in a state of worry about what will come next, afraid to make a move because it may be the wrong one. Understandably so. However, we have to keep moving. And as I write this, I am singing to myself the lyics to the Matthew Wilder song—Break My Stride. For those unfamiliar, the chorus includes:
Ain’t nothin’ gonna to break my stride
Nobody gonna slow me down, oh no
I got to keep on movin’
It has become my 2021 motto. We truly just have to keep going. Staying informed on potential changes in the future is important, but moving forward under the current regulations is imperative. They are the law. Period. They remain the law until the law changes, and we as Title IX professionals are charged with helping institutions and districts remain compliant with the law.
So…how do you keep moving? Well, we’ve got you covered! Here are few tips to remain informed, have your voice heard on what is working/not working in the current process, and to remain compliant with the law as it stands.
Step 1: Operate under your current policies and procedures We do not expect any permanent changes for at least eighteen months.
Step 2: Review what has worked under the policies you drafted for the August 14, 2020 implementation date Gather your team and discussed how the matters resolved. What worked well? What can be better? Use the summer to evaluate and update the policies to make them more user friendly for the 2021-22 academic year.
Step 3: Review the release from OCR (found here) It includes a link to the April 6, 2021 letter related to the direction the Biden Administration intends to move in the future.
Step 4: Use your voice at the Public Hearing (addressed in the press release from Step 3) This will help ensure that OCR understands the challenges that are being faced on the ground, from the Title IX Coordinators doing this work day in and day out. ICS will update you as we know more about how and when the hearings will occur.
Step 5: Support your team This work is HARD and can be exceptionally lonely. Make sure they feel supported. Hold each other up. Get lunch together. Enjoy time together outside of this work. It is important for sustainability.
Step 6: Don’t Break Your Stride, Nobody’s Gonna Slow you Down, Keep Moving! YOU’VE GOT THIS!
Need help implementing the above steps? ICS provides a wide range of Title IX services, including its Community Access program (Higher Ed / K-12) and its live interactive trainings (Higher Ed / K-12). Contact us for more information.