It wasn't just a pandemic that presented challenges to schools across the country this month.
Changes in the federal Title IX regulations required adaptation and change for many school districts and universities.
The new guidelines that govern how sexual assault and harassment allegations are handled on college campuses took effect Aug. 14.
While many have found fault in the new guidelines, the federal website says, "The Department of Education's new Title IX regulation bolsters the legal right to equal access to education, provides new and meaningful protections for survivors of sexual harassment and assault, and balances the scales of justice on campuses across America."
Within the new guidelines the definition of sexual harassment was amended to include dating violence, domestic violence and stalking. Additionally, the federal government says under the new guidelines, survivors are now "in the position of control to decide what happens after an incident of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, occurs. Schools must respect a survivor's decision to file, or not to file, a formal complaint and must offer supportive measures either way. Schools must respond promptly in every instance by offering to provide supportive measures like dorm reassignments or class schedule adjustments."
The guidelines stipulate that schools are forbidden from pressuring a survivor into filing or not filing a formal complaint.
In the case of younger students, the new guidelines say "K-12 schools must respond promptly when any school employee has notice of sexual harassment." Further, the new regulation extends to all aspect of a school's education program or activity and applies to any building owned or controlled by a student organization recognized by a college or university.
Under Title IX, a survivor never has to come face-to-face with the accused during a hearing and the accused is never allowed to personally ask questions of a survivor and that while students have a right to a live hearing, these hearings can be done remotely.
To meet the new Title IX regulations, Rogers State University’s Office of Student Affairs is entering into a working relationship with the University of Oklahoma Institutional Equity Office. The new requirements bring all members of the university community under the same policy and procedures. As a result, this creates greater operational needs for small regional institutions like RSU.
“The partnership with OU ensures compliance with the federal law while best fulfilling our commitments to safety, wellbeing and fairness for all members of the RSU community,” said Dr. Robert Goltra III, Vice President for Student Affairs.
Rogers State University along with Cameron University in Lawton is governed by the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. RSU is committed to fostering an environment free from gender-based discrimination and harassment, including sexual assault and all other forms of gender-based misconduct. RSU recognizes its responsibility to increase awareness of such misconduct, prevent its occurrence, support victims, deal fairly and firmly with offenders, and diligently investigate reports of misconduct.