Princeton will review new federal regulations on sexual misconduct in education to determine how to implement them “in a way that best preserves our current system’s fairness, thoroughness, and sensitivity to the needs of all parties and witnesses,” according to Michele Minter, the University’s vice provost for institutional equity and diversity.
The 2,000-page document from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, announced by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos last month, contains rules that go into effect in August, including narrowing the definition of sexual harassment to “unwelcome conduct that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive” that victims are denied equal access to education. It also limits the complaints schools are obligated to investigate and states that colleges must hold live hearings so the accuser and accused can be cross-examined.
Princeton Students for Title IX Reform (PIXR), which has previously protested the University’s enforcement of Title IX on campus, said the new regulations are disappointing. “[O]ur general reaction was we were truly frightened because we know that all that we have been fighting for during the protests, in many ways [the regulations] took us multiple steps back,” said Aisha Tahir ’21, a member of PIXR. The group wrote an op-ed in The Daily Princetonian about their concerns with the new regulations and recommendations to the University.
Tahir said the group hopes to work with the University to change the culture on campus outside of these specific regulations. “I think that we recognize that the University has to comply with certain federal regulations, but we really hope that what comes out of this is Princeton recognizes even more the importance of increasing its investments in preventing violence and supporting survivors outside of Title IX,” Tahir said.