Nassau Hall
Princeton University, Office of Communications, Denise Applewhite (2020)

Princeton implemented new policies on sexual misconduct to comply with new, narrower federal regulations while continuing to prohibit inappropriate conduct. 

“It is important to know that all conduct of a sexual nature that previously constituted a violation of University policy will continue to constitute a violation of University policy,” wrote Michele Minter, the University’s vice provost for institutional equity and diversity, in a letter to the community. “However, such conduct may now be adjudicated under different grievance procedures.” 

The new policies are the narrower Title IX Sexual Harassment policy, to comply with the recent regulations from the Department of Education, and the related University Sexual Misconduct policy, created to address gaps. Both policies were approved by the faculty and the Council of the Princeton University Community (CPUC) in the summer. 

The Title IX Sexual Harassment policy applies to cases that occur within the United States and within University education programs or activities. Complaints can be filed under this policy by current students, faculty, or staff members. Prohibited behavior must be “severe and pervasive” to be covered. Prohibited behaviors include quid pro quo sexual harassment, Title IX sexual harassment (sexual conduct that “effectively denies an individual equal access to the University’s education program or activity”), sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and retaliation.

“[A]ll conduct of a sexual nature that previously constituted a violation of University policy will continue to constitute a violation of University policy.” — Michele Minter, vice provost for institutional equity and diversity

The University Sexual Misconduct policy applies to the same prohibited behaviors for cases that fall outside of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy, such as incidents that take place during study abroad or at events off campus, including at the eating clubs. Sexual harassment that is “severe or pervasive,” sexual exploitation, and improper conduct related to sex are also covered. In cases where both policies could apply, the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy will be used. 

While the policies were created to maintain many of the University’s previous Title IX guidelines, they also include noteworthy changes such as:

Offering a predetermined amount of financial resources for students, staff, and faculty to engage attorneys. 

Proceedings will include live hearings. Under the Title IX policy there will also be live cross-examinations. Written cross-examinations will be allowed under the University Sexual Misconduct policy. 

Both policies include an optional informal resolution process. All parties and Minter have to agree to initiate the process. 

All complainants and all respondents can appeal decisions to a standing appeal panel. 

Separating the investigators and adjudicators. Previously, these roles were combined. 

Speaking during the Aug. 3 CPUC meeting, Minter said she recognized that these policies are complicated but that the University will work to explain and clarify. “The University’s goal is to meet its responsibilities in a manner that ensures compliance with federal law while best fulfilling our commitments to safety, well-being, and fairness,” she said.