Campus sexual misconduct is a serious issue in the United States. According to data cited by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), 20 percent of female college students and 6 percent of male college students report that they have been a victim of sexual violence. In response to the problem, colleges and universities have strengthened their sexual misconduct policies. Here, you will find an overview of the key things to know about college policies and sexual misconduct allegations.
Federal Law Requires Colleges and Universities to Enact Sexual Misconduct Policies
Under federal regulations, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and The Jeanne Clery Act, colleges and universities that receive any form of federal funding are required to put certain sexual misconduct policies in place. The law requires these educational institutions to comprehensively investigate allegations of wrongdoing and take the appropriate action against the perpetrator. A student who violates a sexual conduct policy may face harsh penalties, including:
- A formal reprimand;
- Loss of ability to participate in certain activities;
- Loss of certain financial benefits, including aid and housing;
- Suspension for one or more semesters; and
- Expulsion from the school.
While educational institutions are required to comply with certain federal requirements, they also retain some discretion to enact their own rules and regulations. For this reason, it is imperative that students accused of wrongdoing obtain a copy of the specific policies put in place by their school.
Disciplinary Proceedings are Complicated: Unique Standards Apply
When a person is arrested and charged with a sexual crime, they are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. To obtain a conviction in a criminal case, a prosecutor has the burden of proving the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. However, these due process protections do not always apply in college/university sexual misconduct cases.
Under college policies, sexual misconduct cases generally fall under a preponderance of evidence standard—meaning a student can be sanctioned if the school determines that it is “more likely than not” that they committed the offense in question. Disciplinary proceedings can be especially complicated in college student sexual misconduct cases. Students accused of wrongdoing need to be aware of their rights.
Due Process Rights for College Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct are in Flux
What due process rights should apply to college students accused of sexual misconduct is a hotly-debated, controversial matter. In June of 2020, the Trump Administration under then Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos changed Obama-era rules that limited the due process rights of the accused. Earlier this year, the Associated Press reported that the Biden Administration is once again reversing course—President Biden ordered the Department of Education to review all rules and regulations on college policies for sexual misconduct.
Get Help From a College Sexual Misconduct Defense Lawyer
Colleges and universities across the country take sexual misconduct allegations very seriously. The stakes are high in these cases and the normal due process standards do not alway apply to defendants. If you or your college student is facing an investigation for violating a policy due to sexual misconduct, contact an experienced college student defense attorney for assistance.