Please Don't MacGyver Your Response to the New Title IX Regulations
Institutions often work with limited resources and balance competing compliance needs. As a result, equity and Title IX offices are often tasked with somehow working the expectations and requirements derived from new resolution agreements, the latest Dear Colleague Letters, the latest Q&A, the latest court cases, and new regulations into the existing framework of the department. This is often achieved through a piecemeal approach, without addressing staffing needs, technology needs, financial resources, or the overall structure of the offices. A stick of gum, a piece of twine, and a bicycle tire can only hold up your compliance work for so long.
This is a great time for schools to approach compliance differently. Before revising or creating any policy in response to the new Title IX regulations, institutions should first assess the compliance context in which the policy will live and be supported. Institutions should look at their existing compliance context in light of the regulations and make decisions about what stays the same and what changes.
Given the intersectionality of all equity work, institutions should also take this opportunity to assess how they are complying with ALL laws prohibiting discrimination and harassment and make any changes that will help strengthen their compliance work.
FIRST, read the new Title IX regulations. THEN, make decisions about:
Organizational structure: How will the institution structure compliance and response obligations? What offices are necessary to support nondiscrimination and equity work? How many compliance offices will the institution require (ie, one office for all equity work or separate offices (one for sex/gender and Title IX work the other for other forms of discrimination))? Different offices based on the status of the parties (student, employee, faculty)? This is institution-based. Each school makes their own determination about what works for their mission, community, system, finances, etc.
Staffing: How can you set these offices and their compliance work up for success? How many people are necessary to successfully and meaningfully engage in compliance activities? How will the institution staff the work and roles, particularly in light of the new regulations?
Policies: One equity policy covering all forms of discrimination and harassment? One policy for sex/gender discrimination and harassment, one for Title IX, one for all other forms of discrimination and harassment? Different policies for different groups (students, faculty, staff)?
Financial and Other Resources: The proposed regulations could present financial and technological additions to equity offices as these offices look to staff training needs, provide advisors, staff hearings, and fulfill other compliance obligations.
This is feasible. Get stakeholders together: Title IX/Equity leaders, HR, general counsel, finance, compliance, and other stakeholders who can help design an informed, structured, and supported approach to a successful compliance model for your institution. Make the time to do this work. Because when you use gum in the compliance world, it only gets stuck on your shoe.