Recent Title IX Caselaw

John Doe v Rectors and Visitors of George Mason University, No. 1:15-cv-00209 (E.D. Va. 02/25/2016).

John Doe v. Washington and Lee University, No. 6:14- cv-00052 (W.D. Va. (08/2015).

Sarah Butters v. JamesMadisonUniversity,No. 5:2015cv00015 (W.D. Va. 11/06/2015).

JohnDoe v. ColumbiaUniversity,No.15-1536,(2nd Cir. 07/29/2016).

Karasek v. Regents of the University of California, No. 4:2015cv03717 (N.D. Cal. 12/11/2015).

Jane Doe I et al. v. The University of Tennessee et al., No. 3:2016cv00199 (M.D. Tenn. 05/03/2016).

Green Dot and Effective Bystander Intervention Training

There are organizations that have successfully developed effective bystander training and Green Dot is one such organization. The foundation of their training methods are described below.

A foundational tenet of the Green Dot etc. violence prevention strategy is the belief that we cannot expect others to engage in a process we are not willing to engage in ourselves. Toward this end, training participants should expect to engage in an in-depth examination of their personal and professional connection to the issue of violence prevention, obstacles to action, ways to learn from past efforts, and capacity development. Participants strengthen competence through experiential components including journaling, giving and receiving feedback, and small group process, practice and discussion.

To learn more about Green Dot, visit the site.

Effective Bystander Intervention Programs

What makes an effective bystander? (And  AE’s definition of an effective bystander  is someone who is willing to put themselves on the line in an attempt to prevent sexual assault; and actually accomplishes this task, without harm to themselves or others.) It can be a seriously dangerous proposition; and people who are trained to intervene will have better chances of success. Below are the components of effective bystanding, taken from the article Bystander-Focused Prevention of Sexual Violence, a resource from  the Not Alone toolkit.

Common Components of Bystander Intervention

  • Awareness.

A key first step is to heighten awareness so individuals and groups are better able to identify instances of sexual violence.

  • Sense of Responsibility.

A sense of responsibility gives the bystander motivation to step in and take action. Bystanders are much more likely to help friends than strangers, and are more likely to help strangers if they see them as part of a group they identify with (like supporting the same sports team).

  • Perceptions of norms.

Perceptions of peer norms about helping (whether you think your friends are likely to help), and perceptions of authorities’ (like teachers’) attitudes are related to bystander attitudes. People often mistakenly think others are less supportive of doing something to address sexual violence than they actually are. Studies show links between perceptions of helping, trust, and commitment among community members; trust in campus authorities; and their willingness to take action as a bystander.

  • Weighing pros and cons.

People weigh the costs and benefits of getting involved in a risky situation. These include threats to their own safety, negative consequences for their relationships with others, and the potential to change the outcome of a risky situation or to help a victim.

  • Confidence.

People who feel more confident in their ability to help are more likely to take action.3 A consistent research finding is that prevention programs, particularly in-person educational and skill workshops, increase individuals’ sense that they can take effective action.

  • Building Skills.

People need to know what to do and how to do it. Population survey data shows that many people are at a loss for specific ways to help. Survivors tell us that friends and family do not always do things that are useful or supportive, and these negative or unhelpful responses make coping with and recovering from abuse much harder. Some of the promise of bystander intervention training is that it can give motivated community members skills to intervene in ways that protect their own safety and are truly supportive to victims.

  • Context.

Bystanders also need safety nets for themselves – resources they can call upon and community policies that support intervention.

Delivery Methods

In person, skill-building curricula. Workshops of varying lengths are the most researched prevention training for potential bystanders.

Compliance is Not That Complicated!


The Alchemy Enterprise Approach to Compliance

 When it comes to compliance, what is critical is having a workable compliance system in place. At Alchemy, we can walk you through the steps of building a workable compliance system in the easiest most painless fashion, starting with a top-down initiative that spirals through the organization organically growing into a transformative movement.

 Compliance – It’s Complicated, but It Doesn’t have to be

There are so many laws, regulations and guidances that have an impact upon how higher education is expected to deal with sexual assault and intimate violence on college campuses. There is Title IX of the Education Act of 1972, the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, (Campus SaVE Act) which is incidentally, a part of the  Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act,  which then spurred amendments to the Jeanne Clery Act. Also, let’s not forget the April 2011  “Dear Colleague” letter, which identifies a host of responsibilities, to be undertaken by a (often newly appointed) Title IX coordinator.

In this “Dear Colleague” letter, the Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights highly recommends that every institution of higher education appoint at least one individual into a Title IX coordinator full-time position for the express purpose of overseeing compliance efforts in the area of sexual assault and intimate violence.

Also, on April 29, 2014, the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault released a report entitled, Not Alone. This report contains a number of recommendations and action items which, institutions of higher education are expected to implement in order to combat sexual assault and intimate violence.  The problems presented by a need to be in compliance with so many laws can be pretty complex.  Proposed solutions involving all these numerous and sometimes conflicting, laws, guidances and recommendations seem complicated.

But this cannot get too complicated because the moment that happens any attempts to actually solve the problem become ineffective. This is where Alchemy Enterprises can help. We take the complicated and we simplify it. With all this information that is coming at you, whether you be a Title IX coordinator, a Provost, a Vice President of Student Affairs, a Sorority President, a Fraternity President, A Student Activist, or a member of the PanHellenic council, or Student Government, Alchemy Enterprises can help.  We understand that you need to understand the issues and your responsibilities with regard to them and then you need to do something. And not just anything, but the right thing. And that’s where Alchemy Enterprises can help.

 Why Choose AE for Compliance?

 As with any area of compliance there are risks associated with noncompliance. With regard to Title IX sexual misconduct and intimate violence, the risks associated with noncompliance can be substantial.  For institutions that have been caught in a noncompliance mode, the consequences have been, million dollar law suit settlements, unrest and discord amongst the student body, local and even national scandal, and loss of competent administrators who are forced to resign because of inappropriate actions and behaviors taken during what is often a very difficult time for all parties involved.

Navigating through allegations involving sexual misconduct and to a lesser degree, intimate violence is wrought with so many difficulties. It’s like walking through a figurative minefield. This is why setting up compliance systems that run smoothly, before such allegations are received are critical to moving through that process effectively. These are the products that Alchemy Enterprises offers – compliance and prevention products and services that create the map that navigates through the minefield.

Every institution should have certain compliance systems in place, but how well do they really work? Institutions often learn through trial and error what is working and what’s not. Even worse, organizations are forced to learn though embarrassing media coverage that explodes the issue into the national spotlight in ways that are unproductive and very harmful for the organization; and yet, most times this is what is required before an organization is truly willing to address failures in compliance. Don’t wait until then. Get ahead of the curve. Alchemy Enterprises offers a relatively painless and easy framework to begin analyzing your institutions Title IX compliance policies effectiveness in the area of sexual misconduct and intimate violence.

There are quite a few consulting groups that offer services to higher education. What makes AE different from the rest?  There are three things that immediately distinguish AE from all the rest:

  1. We are highly specialized


  1. We are systematic and innovative.


  1. We are high quality and value-driven


AE’s Mission

It is AE’s mission to transform the systems used in higher education to bring about Title IX compliance, by partnering with our clients to provide high quality compliance systems, in a way that is consistent with our values which are: partnership, innovation, transformation, integrity, creativity and respect for the Individual the Institution, the World.

The Benefits of Specialization

We know how to do the right thing. How do we know?  Because we are specialized in this area, which means we think about how to accomplish the right thing, all the time, considering the latest and greatest best practices that are occurring in this area. Many higher Ed consulting groups are specialized in higher ed risk management, but are not specialized in sexual assault and intimate violence. The requirements to address the sexual assault and intimate violence on campus are fairly new- so it’s safe to say that no higher ed consultants are going to be all that specialized in these areas of compliance. But at Alchemy, we are. At Alchemy many of our associates have worked in disciplines that have provided them with direct experience with sexual harassment, sexual assault and intimate violence.

Most higher education administrators are responsible for ensuring that a number of areas that interact and intersect are running smoothly. Do they have time to stay abreast of every single new case, new ruling, and new big media story on campus sexual assault or intimate violence? Do they have the time to keep abreast of all of the latest and greatest practices regarding diversity and inclusion in the realm of higher ed.? Not likely.  Administrators have to spend most of their time attending to the business of running the school.

But even if they did have time to spare to devote to these issues, much of the compliance material in these areas is obtuse and unnecessarily legalistic.  Who wants to spend their time reading between all of these convoluted lines? No one really, but at Alchemy Enterprises we’ve done it for you.  It was our job to do it so we did. We are specialized and current in these areas of federal law, guidance and recommendations, so that your administrators don’t have to be. We also work very hard to stay abreast of the latest trends in these areas. We take in all of the information, thoroughly review it, research it and evaluate it, to bring the most important information directly to you, in an easy to understand concise format.

Innovative Systems

We have also developed systems that work; and let’s be clear- compliance will not work effectively without some kind of system in place. At AE we have developed our own systems approach that is designed to work directly with your current systems.  Our compliance and training systems focus on three areas- all are absolutely critical to compliance-

  1. Policy
  2. Procedure and
  3. Training

Our training systems are innovative in that they are creative, interactive, engaging and hopefully fun! We want all of our clients to feel as though their experience with AE was time well-spent. Therefore, our training sessions do not utilize a lecture format which participants usually forget very shortly after the training session is over.  Instead, our training sessions are interactive based upon what participants want and need to know. At AE, our training is designed to engage our clients in a transformative process that has a ripple effect throughout the entire organization.  A top to bottom roll-out method works best with compliance training. AE will work with your institution to get such a system in place and working effectively and efficiently.

High Quality Value

Our training systems are of a very high quality, which is to say they require a significant investment of time from AE associates as well as our clients.  A high quality compliance system with integrity can only occur when a pretty secure partnership exists between AE and its clients and stakeholders. However, such high quality systems provide tremendous value. Knowing how to effectively manage a situation that could potentially lead to numerous lawsuits and national scandal before such a situation gets out of hand is incredibly valuable. And having a system in place that allows an organization to do the right thing, quickly and efficiently – that is priceless.

While such a system does not come cheap- it definitely is worth what it costs and usually twice that, even three times that and more. Compliance problems are incredibly costly – not just in terms of money, but time. Compliance problems within any system eat up a tremendous amount of time.  Any organization that has had compliance problems in the past, should quickly invest in a compliance system, in order to prevent future compliance problems.

The High Cost of Noncompliance (Don’t Start Here)

 When it comes to compliance, it can be difficult to know where to start, or how to move beyond the initial phase of policy development. Here is where you don’t want to start, with scandal or tragedy. Sadly, that’s usually when most organizations decide to make compliance a priority.

Many schools learn how well its compliance systems work (or don’t work) the hard way.  With regard to sexual assault investigations, Columbia, Harvard, Baylor, Stanford, and the University of Virginia, have had their compliance systems attacked through embarrassing national media attention, which of course causes significant disruption within the institutions themselves and forces almost immediate revision of compliance systems that are deemed ineffective, primarily due to emerging negative public opinion. And this public opinion can be quite scathing.

In a controversial film and companion book, entitled, The Hunting Ground – The Inside Story of Sexual Assault on American College Campuses, campus sexual assault has been described as an epidemic. The underlying premise of the film The Hunting Ground is that many large and well-funded universities are purposefully permitting sexual assault to occur on their campuses, without taking any appropriate or remedial action. It is a controversial position, which many colleges have denied and are challenging, but where any given institution stands with regard to this particular position is largely irrelevant at this point, because the idea has become increasingly pervasive and has spurred a tremendous amount of student activism around this position. This has resulted in many colleges and universities being accused of severe wrong doing, such as violating the rights of victims and protecting perpetrators of sexual assault.  No university wants to be all over the media enmeshed in accusations of turning a blind eye toward rampant sexual assault, or even worse facilitating and encouraging it. What is the best way to deal with these potentially damaging allegations? Be proactive. Understand the issues and develop effective systems to deal with them.

A Policy Review is the Place to Start

Compliance, which, if done correctly, typically involves adopting a set of policies and an accompanying set of procedures, as well as sufficient training of all relevant stakeholders on the new policies and procedures. In order to be most effective, this needs to occur periodically.

Universities must not only adopt policies and procedures that address sexual assault and intimate violence on campus- they must also ensure that what is implemented is effective.  The starting point for compliance involves adopting a set of policies and an accompanying set of procedures, and training all relevant stakeholders on the new policies and procedures, periodically.  AE offers a framework by which a college or university can begin to analyze the efficacy of its own Title IX Sexual Misconduct and Intimate Violence policies and procedures, beginning with an objective review of its current policy. This policy review is absolutely critical as it is necessary to develop institutional comprehension regarding what is working with the policy, what is not and identifying areas where there is room for improvement.

At a minimum, an AE policy review involves AE staff thoroughly reviewing an institution’s current policy, providing a written evaluation of it and discussing the policy review with the university’s Title IX coordinator.

Ideally, this conversation would also include follow – up discussions with at least at least two other executive level administrators, such as the President or Chancellor, The Title IX coordinator, and the Vice President of Student Affairs. With regard to effective implementation- in all actuality- several high level administrators need to be involved at some point. But, AE can certainly begin these preliminary discussions on the policy, with those who have the power and influence to impact the dissemination of the policy through appropriate channels. –

Executive Briefing Is the Next Step

Ideally, everyone who holds any power inside of an institution needs to be briefed on the institutions Title IX Compliance efforts. This effort begins with the President or the Chancellor announcing, in some way shape of form, that compliance efforts are being undertaken, that the compliance efforts are important to the well-being of the institution, and requesting that all of his or her direct reports be knowledgeable about the basic tenets of the compliance efforts which is the policy and procedure.

Everyone reporting to the President or Chancellor needs to understand that the policy is important- that it needs to be read, reviewed, understood and ultimately ingrained into the fabric of the organization. It cannot be overestimated how critical this component is to all institutional compliance efforts. Without this critical next step, a great deal of any subsequent compliance efforts taken on behalf of the university will fail. They will be sabotaged by individuals who misunderstand the compliance efforts or fundamentally take issue with the compliance efforts because of their own values.

Even with the imprimatur of the President or Chancellor of the University, compliance efforts can still be sabotaged. This, however, is much less likely to occur with a sound policy and very detailed procedures in place. This is why a policy review is the best place for an institution to begin its compliance efforts. There is a method to compliance; and not following that methodology is a lot like building a house on shifting sands. Many gains are lost when a steady foundation is not established in the beginning.

A Roll Out of the W Series- A Problem Solving Approach – Keeps the Momentum Going

However, once a steady foundation has been established via the policy review and the executive briefing, the Institution is ready to keep that momentum going by rolling-out training systems that will organically grow a transformation movement that will bring the institution into a compliance mode- and effectively deal with the kinds of growing pains that cultural transformations inevitably cause.

Institutions of Higher Learning are incredibly complex organizations that have many different audiences needing to be informed and aware of the laws, guidances and recommendations regarding sexual assault and intimate violence for many different reasons.

Alchemy Enterprises has developed training products that are easy to understand and highly customizable, and yet, up to the task of delivering extremely complicated content in this arena that is- sexual misconduct and intimate violence.


The W- Series

Our W series training products accomplish this in a highly accessible, easy to understand and implement formula that can be rolled out organization – wide and to several different types of audiences and participants.

Through its W training series, Alchemy Enterprise has developed a framework that works with all topics and all different groups due to its conceptual simplicity- which is – problem solving. For most of the training series participants are asked to define what the current problem is and agree upon the best ways in which to approach solutions.

This works because the W series does not confront or accuse the current organizational culture, but rather invites it into a line of inquiry and a discussion, which will allow the current culture to collectively establish the new norms and appropriate dialogue and action. That has to be created in order to meet new compliance requirements. The W series does this using a problem solving methodology, framed around a series of questions.

No matter what the topic is: Intimate Violence, Sexual Assault, Affirmative Consent, Safe- Spaces, Administrative Investigations, the Implementation of Policy and Procedure, and any other topic that you may want to tackle,  Alchemy Enterprises, approaches the topic, through a series of What, Why, When, Who questions such as:

What is it?

What is the solution to the Problem?

What is your particular interest or what specific role do you play in solving the problem?

What can you do to solve this problem?

Who else can be of assistance in solving the problem?

What kind of resistance will you encounter with regard to your ability to solve the problem, and from whom?

What resources will you need in order to solve this problem?

When and where can you take action, to solve this problem?


Engagement and Buy In

The W- series training sessions are task-oriented, which is to say, it immediately engages participants in problem-solving exercises which educate and empower participants to learn how to take appropriate actions when faced with difficult or controversial decisions.

No matter who is participating in these training sessions on whatever topic is at issue, the goal is for participants to be engaged and to have some stake in the outcome for the training session.

It’s Not Check off The Box, Off-the-Shelf That We’re Offering

Oh this law was passed, so we’ll hire some consultants, do their training- and check off the box. That will do it. Walah! Instant compliance.

This is often the solution organizations are seeking. And it makes sense, because it’s easy. It’s very easy to hire a firm to roll-out their off the shelf- training, much of it online, (which is even easier). All that needs to be done is purchase the product, have participants sign up for it, force them through it and then be done with it. The mission has been accomplished. The box has been checked. And all this cost is a relatively little bit of time and a relatively little bit of money, considering how much time and money is spent on more high-quality, specifically customized in-person training. Is this kind of training effective? Does that work? In some cases, for certain types of institutional compliance – yes.  These kinds of training systems work with straightforward compliance concepts such as the best practices for utilizing IT systems, or the best work space safety practices.

But when the compliance concept impacts, not only the institution’s organizational culture (as well as the larger social culture around certain behaviors and deeply held beliefs, that tie into religion, morality, gender, race, class, money, power, justice, criminal justice,  developing a compliance system that is effective  is not an easy task, nor is it one that can be accomplished quickly. Any firm that claims that one particular type of training session will solve all problems the multitude of problems that Title IX compliance presents is being disingenuous.  In order for any real transformation to occur, people must be engaged in the transformation process and believe in its efficacy.

This is what is so unique about the W series.  It is not simply a training system that is pushed onto to them, that they have to suffer through as a result of some mandate that they may or may not agree with. The W series engages participants from the very start and provides them with a stake in the outcome of the training. It’s not training that happens to them – it is training that they collectively create.  Through lines of inquiry, each training group can collectively and organically establish an action plan for bringing about the kind of transformational organizational change that will be required to consistently and effectively deal with the challenges posed in preventing campus sexual assault and intimate violence, using the resources that the group has identified as being at their disposal.

It is very important that any training in this area realistically identify the resources that are at the college and university’s disposal to go forward with working out solutions via this problem-solving methodology. Training in these sorts of areas should never be viewed as a “well we did that, let’s check off this box on someone’s action plan somewhere and move on” endeavor.  All too often, organizational training is viewed in that way. But that approach heavily undervalues the greatest benefits and gains to be derived from training.

Rather than a check-off- the-task- approach, training should be viewed as providing participants with tools and a framework that can be used over and over again to allow for significant organizational cultural shifts and changes that occur gradually. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Title IX compliance in the area of sexual assault and intimate violence is definitely like eating an elephant. Changes need to occur, and they will one way or another. But they will not happen overnight. What is most important for most colleges and universities is having a framework in place by which change can occur most organically, productively and progressively.

Our training modules are so simple, anyone with the appropriate facilitation skills can implement them. While we do not recommend this initially, it is certainly a possibility once the framework has been properly established, within your organization.

 When Things Go Wrong – The Risk of Non-Compliance

 On July 6, 2016, the University of Tennessee announced a $2.48 million dollar settlement of a lawsuit against it, with regard to the manner in which it had handles sexual misconduct on its campus. As a part of the settlement, the school agreed to increase training for all employees on addressing sexual violence, make changes to the manner in which its student disciplinary board is organized and nationally recognized hire consultants to improve their school policies.

In exchange for this, the plaintiffs – all of the women remained anonymous – agreed to drop any additional legal claims against the school and refrain from making any statements that will reflective negatively on the school. However, a settlement of this nature that is being dissected critically via national news media outlets already reflects negatively on the school.

When things are going wrong, in this arena, (and in this arena, they can go wrong to the tune of two and a half million dollars), it is important to call in the experts to manage the situation as expeditiously as possible.

These experts should be able to utilize crisis management techniques that have been time tested and proven to work. The Alchemy Enterprises F.L.I.P.P. investigative model is one such technique, and for that reason, every Title IX Coordinator should review this model and evaluate how well its organization’s investigations into sexual assault and intimate violence follow this model.

Our specialization into this particular area is what distinguishes us from the rest. Make no mistake, the sexual assault and intimate violence arenas are rife with conflict, confusion and controversy – in order to effectively solve problems in this area, an organization will need to hire outside, specialized help with a proven track record of handling investigations in this area specifically.  And then in moving forward, past the crisis, there is still a need for the specialized serviced to assure that the organization can transform and grow beyond the crisis.

Transformation and Growth – Ensuring that Things Go Right

Beyond the investigation, or the mishandled allegations, or whatever the issue is that needed to be properly managed, but was not, beyond the problems, obstacles, conflict and confusion there is a way.

Every college and university can begin its Title IX compliance efforts by systematically investing in resources and tools designed to ensure that things go right. This is how Alchemy Enterprises can assist schools in discovering the correct formula for moving forward in this area of sexual misconduct and intimate violence. We provide a comprehensive framework, from policy review to flexible, problem-solving based training systems; to refined investigation systems. These are all invaluable tools for any institution to utilize. That is what the Alchemy Enterprises brand offers, training products that work, investigative procedures that work and most importantly solutions to problems that work!

A Complimentary Consultation

To kick off its fall 2016 launch, Alchemy Enterprises is offering complimentary consultations to University Presidents, Chancellors and Title IX and Student Affairs coordinators. Please contact us at:




Alchemy Enterprises

Transforming Education through Innovation

Compliance Made Easy

Need an App for That?

These days,  young people, (and even a few of use older ones) use Apps for everything! And why is that? Apps can be kwirky, cool,  or crazy! But the reason I use them is that they are incredibly convenient. The Association of Title IX administrators (ATIXA) have developed an app that can be used as a Title IX compliance tool. I can’t say that I have personal experience with this app, (how well it works, or engages students) but given all of the extensive training requirements of Title IX compliance, I’d say, it seems this might be a great solution to a problem that is always going to a moving target. Click on the links below to get more information.


U of Nine is an app-based solution to help colleges and universities educate students and employees about sexual violence, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence and stalking. A cost-effective way to offer awareness and education content for audiences that can be hard-to-reach.

U of Nine modules are quiz-based, and have been created by ATIXA, the Association of Title IX Administrators, in collaboration with leading education quiz-based training app company, Trivie.

Experience U of Nine for yourself! Free 14-day trials available online

To learn more, click here.
To read the official press release, click here.

The Chronicle of Higher Education


‘Fundamental Failure’ on Sexual Assaults Brings Sweeping Change at Baylor

MAY 27, 2016

Rod Aydelotte, Waco Tribune Herald, AP Images
Kenneth W. Starr will no longer serve as Baylor’s president, though he will stay on as chancellor and remain a professor of law. His demotion was part of a series of personnel and policy changes announced by the regents on Thursday in response to an outside firm’s scathing examination of the university’s handling of sexual-violence reports.

Baylor University’s Board of Regents on Thursday announced sweeping changes in how the Texas institution and its athletic program will be run, including the removal of Kenneth W. Starr as president and the firing of the head football coach, Art Briles.The overhaul is the result of damning findings that acknowledged the Baptist university’s failures to respond properly to numerous reports of sexual assault over three academic years on the Waco campus, especially those involving its powerhouse football team. The board’ssummary of findings by investigators from the law firm Pepper Hamilton LLC concluded that the university’s processes for dealing with such complaints were “wholly inadequate” and that high-level administrators and athletics-staff members had “directly discouraged” students from reporting assaults and, in one case, retaliated against a student who reported an incident.

“We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus,” Richard Willis, chair of the board, said in a written statement. “This investigation revealed the university’s mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive, and caring environment for students.”

In addition to the personnel changes, the regents enacted a number of new practices and policies meant not only to better respond to reports of sexual violence, but also to maintain more oversight of the athletics department.

“Things like this should have already been in place.”

But the upheaval presents serious challenges for the institution and its leadership.”Any changes by Baylor optically look good, but the devil is in the details,” said B. David Ridpath, an associate professor of sports administration at Ohio University. “Things like this should have already been in place.”

The Fallout

It’s rare for a college’s president to be dismissed for the institution’s failures under the federal gender-equity law known as Title IX. Mr. Starr’s demotion was all the more surprising because he has been credited with significantly raising Baylor’s profile since taking office, in 2010, and he is held in high regard by many faculty members and alumni. His reputation has also been bolstered by his experience as a former federal judge, solicitor general of the United States, and the independent counsel who led a lengthy investigation of President Bill Clinton.

But the pressure on Baylor had been building for months, and Mr. Starr’s demotion was foreshadowed by several news reports this week suggesting that he had been fired.

Under the terms of a proposed agreement, Mr. Starr will retain his title as chancellor of the university — a role that regents described as focused on fund raising. He is also expected to remain a tenured member of the law-school faculty and earn the full base salary that he is currently paid. Baylor’s 2014 report to the IRS lists that amount as $611,654.

Tony Gutierrez, AP Images
Baylor’s head football coach, Art Briles, was suspended “with intent to terminate.” Other athletics officials also face sanctions or termination, and the regents also adopted several new practices and policies meant not only to better respond to reports of sexual violence, but also to maintain more oversight of the athletics department.

Ian McCaw, the university’s athletics director, has been put on probation and is being sanctioned, though the regents declined to provide further details of that action when they spoke with reporters during a conference call on Thursday.Mr. Briles, the football coach, has been “suspended indefinitely with intent to terminate according to contractual procedures,” according to a news release on Baylor’s website, and “additional members of the administration and athletics department have also been dismissed.” The university is not identifying those people or positions publicly.

Taking over as interim president will be David E. Garland, a former dean of the university’s theological seminary. Mr. Garland also served as interim president of Baylor for two years before Mr. Starr’s hiring. He did not respond to a request for comment.

The challenge for the new leader will be to “refocus the institution on its core purposes and values,” said William E. (Brit) Kirwan, a former chancellor of the University System of Maryland. And that will have to include placing athletics in a proper context within the university, said Mr. Kirwan, who is now a co-chairman of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

“Athletics will have to take a back seat and play a more appropriate role in the life of the institution,” he said.

While the university’s football team has risen from being a woeful underdog to a force in the Big 12 Conference and a fixture among the nation’s top teams, a series of sexual-assault cases cast a cloud over the team and its head coach.

The investigation by Pepper Hamilton found: “In certain instances, including reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players, athletics and football personnel affirmatively chose not to report sexual violence and dating violence to an appropriate administrator outside of athletics.”Some measures enacted by the regents are aimed at putting the athletics department on a shorter leash. The business operations of the athletics department will now be overseen by the university’s chief operating officer, and the university will seek to ensure that athletes are not given any preferential treatment in student-conduct proceedings.

Putting the athletics department under the control of the university’s main administrators may be helpful, Mr. Ridpath said, or it may turn out to be a “paper drill.”

A lot will depend on how much leverage alumni and donors to the athletics program exert on the new president, he said. “So many, including presidents, are not willing to take on that fight, and situations like this are allowed to happen and fester,” Mr. Ridpath said.

High Stakes for Colleges

In all, however, the measures mark what some legal and higher-education experts described as an exceptional response to one of higher education’s most vexing issues.

In particular, it’s unusual for a university to publicly release findings regarding sexual assault that make it clear the institution violated federal law — particularly when the institution, like Baylor, was not under federal investigation. After all, the ultimate penalty for violating Title IX is the loss of all federal funds.

But Baylor’s actions represent an attempt to keep nothing hidden. In a 13-page document called “Findings of Fact,” the Board of Regents said the Pepper Hamilton investigation found that Baylor had failed in a multitude of ways, including a failure “to prioritize, recognize, implement, and resource Title IX.”

The language used in the Baylor release sounds very much like what the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights uses in its own findings when investigating universities’ compliance with Title IX. In fact, a division of Pepper Hamilton specializes in helping universities both respond to investigations by the federal government and reform their policies surrounding Title IX in order to meet federal guidelines.

But while investigations by the federal office, known as OCR, frequently take years to complete, Pepper Hamilton’s review of Baylor took just around nine months.

“This looks like a pre-emptive strike, which any good defense attorney would make. This way they get more control.”

While the university’s level of disclosure seems to put the institution at more risk, putting all of its problems on the table now could also help it minimize the impact of any later federal investigation.”This looks like a pre-emptive strike, which any good defense attorney would make,” said Djuna Perkins, a trial lawyer in Massachusetts who is hired by colleges to investigate sexual-assault cases. “This way they get more control.”

By announcing the university’s intentions to overhaul its response to sexual-assault reports — things the federal government no doubt would require following any investigation — Baylor gets to make those changes on its own terms, Ms. Perkins said.

Peter F. Lake, an expert on Title IX and a professor at the Stetson University College of Law, said universities gradually are realizing that transparency is important when it comes to how they’ve handled sexual-misconduct cases. “This is no time for wallpapering or whitewashing of any kind,” he said. “External investigators must be keenly aware of the reality that the stakes are rising, and institutions without sincere, voluntary compliance efforts are at risk.”

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights said Baylor’s actions were a positive step. “We are grateful when any school evaluates its civil-rights compliance and takes necessary corrective steps — those are key elements in ensuring all students’ civil rights are met,” Dorie Nolt, a department spokeswoman, said in a statement on Thursday evening.

But the measures don’t preclude a federal investigation, she continued. “The department will not hesitate to investigate if necessary,” she said, “and if we receive a complaint within our jurisdiction.”

Eric Kelderman writes about money and accountability in higher education, including such areas as state policy, accreditation, and legal affairs. You can find him on Twitter @etkeld, or email him at

Robin Wilson writes about campus culture, including sexual assault and sexual harassment. Contact her at

Dear Colleague Letter

The Department of Education- Office of Civil Rights

April 4, 2011

Dear Colleague:

Education has long been recognized as the great equalizer in America. The U.S. Department of Education and its Office for Civil Rights (OCR) believe that providing all students with an educational environment free from discrimination is extremely important. The sexual harassment of students, including sexual violence, interferes with students’ right to receive an education free from discrimination and, in the case of sexual violence, is a crime. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq., and its implementing regulations, 34 C.F.R. Part 106, prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities operated by recipients of Federal financial assistance. Sexual harassment of students, which includes acts of sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX. In order to assist recipients, which include school districts, colleges, and universities (hereinafter “schools” or “recipients”) in meeting these obligations, this letter explains that the requirements of Title IX pertaining to sexual harassment also cover sexual violence, and lays out the specific Title IX requirements applicable to sexual violence.

To  read the Full Letter Click Here


University Of New Mexico Often Mishandled Sexual Violence Cases, DOJ Finds

A federal investigation finds incompetence dealing with sexual assault and harassment in multiple departments at the public university.

04/22/2016 02:44 pm ET | Updated Apr 24, 2016
Tyler KingkadeSenior Editor/Reporter, The Huffington Post

University of New Mexico President Robert Frank speaks on campus in Albuquerque, N.M. He did not say that the university failed on sexual assault, despite a damning DOJ report.

The University of New Mexico failed to comply with federal law in handling sexual assault and harassment cases, a U.S. Department of Justice investigation found.

The results of the federal inquiry, released Friday, paint a picture of significant incompetence on the part of UNM, in multiple offices.

“Our findings reveal how a flawed system for responding to sexual assault fails all those involved,” Vanita Gupta, head of the DOJ’s civil rights division, said in a statement, “from victims seeking adequate protection, to accused students demanding fair hearings, to faculty looking for clear instruction.”

While the U.S. Department of Education has ramped up probes of how colleges handle sexual assaults in recent years, with more than 200 such investigations currently opening, a Justice Department inquiry is rare. The last one completed at a higher education institution was a joint investigation with the Education Department at the University of Montana, but that one also looked at how local police and prosecutors handled cases.

Colleges and universities are required under the gender equity law Title IX to respond to reports of sexual assault and harassment.

The DOJ investigation at UNM, in Albuquerque, began on Dec. 5, 2014, and looked at cases handled over a six-year period.

During much of that time, UNM had no written protocol on how long it should take with investigations, and cases often took twice as long to resolve as the 60-day timeframe recommended by the U.S. Department of Education. Both complainants and respondents were often not told about delays or why things were taking so long, the DOJ said.

“The United States found that after UNM received an allegation of sexual harassment, effective follow-through procedures were largely absent, both during [Office of Equal Opportunity]’s investigative period and after it issued findings,” the DOJ report said. “In addition, UNM does not have established protocols to ensure that information regarding investigations and findings are effectively conveyed to other departments and divisions on campus.”

In one case, the university’s own admissions office did not know that an undergrad applying for graduate school was currently under investigation for sexual misconduct, the report said.

Vanita Gupta, the head of Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said UNM did not comply with federal law in handling sexual violence.

Further problematic was that until the DOJ investigation, the OEO, which handled sexual assault investigations, reported to the office of the university’s general counsel.

“This management structure created a conflict between OEO’s stated goal of eliminating and redressing harassment and OUC’s role in limiting the University’s liability,” the DOJ said.

Interim sanctions were inconsistent, according to the DOJ report. Sometimes they suggested against a temporary suspension because there was so much heat on the accused that school assumed the accused wouldn’t be a threat to anyone. But in another matter, the DOJ said, “UNM suspended the respondent from campus during the pendency of the investigation, but told him that he could continue with his course work at home. However, no arrangement was made for him to take his tests off campus, and respondent did not know who to reach out to for assistance. As a result, he dropped all his classes and lost a semester of course work.”

Students speaking with federal investigators accused campus police of gender bias, saying officers questioned victims about why they didn’t do more to fight off their attackers or lectured them on why young women should not drink in public, the report said. UNM cops often believed at “face-level” the accused students’ claims that victims consented and rarely challenged them, federal investigators found.

University administrators had similar sentiments, the DOJ said, sometimes describing victims as “lonely” or “clingy.” In interviews, “University officials made several statements placing blame with students who are assaulted, reflecting a significant lack of understanding about the dynamics of sexual assault.”

The DOJ will now require UNM to provide better and clearer information about reporting options for sexual violence, and disclose more details to students and staff on where to go for assistance or to begin grievance procedures. The university will also have to revise policies, procedures and investigative practices to ensure “prompt and equitable resolution of sexual harassment and sexual assault allegations.”

In a statement Friday, UNM President Robert G. Frank disputed the DOJ report. He didn’t explain what specifically was wrong with it, other than to say it was a “brief snapshot in time.”

“While we respect the efforts of the DOJ, we believe its report is an inaccurate and incomplete picture of our university,” Frank said.

While colleges are required under federal law to handle sexual assault reports from students, Frank complained that the school is being asked to do too much.

“Universities like UNM face the unattainable goal of stopping campus sexual assault. We are asked to be investigators and adjudicators of incredibly complex situations that typically involve alcohol or drugs, and frequently occur off our campus,” Frank said. “The reality is that federal regulations hold us to a higher standard than any city, any police department, or any court system, even though our primary mission is to provide  high quality education, health care, and research. And we are asked to do it all without any additional financial support.”

He did not acknowledge in his statement that the university did anything wrong.

Read the entire letter of findings from the investigation: 





Tyler Kingkade is a national reporter who covers higher education and sexual violence and is based in New York. You can reach him at, or find him on Twitter: @tylerkingkade.

4 Questions You Need to Ask Your Future College Before You Go There


APR 28, 2016 1:53PM EDT

This piece is part of Not Your Fault, a Teen Vogue campaign that aims to educate people about the epidemic of sexual assault. For more on this series, click here.

Now that college acceptances have been given out, there’s a lot to think about before deciding where you’re going to spend the next four years: What’s the professor-to-student ratio? Is the food any good? Do people live on campus all four years? And, of course, how is campus safety — especially as it relates to sexual violence?

We’ve all heard the grim stats: One in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted during their college years. While a school’s policies on sexual violence may not be something that you’d thought about when applying, they’re definitely worth adding to your decision-making criteria — both for your own well-being and safety, as well as for pushing the school to address any problems with how it handles sexual violence.

The recent “Unacceptable Acceptance Letters” campaign made this statement loud and clear through a video, which shows students opening acceptance letters filled with disturbing statements about the reality of campus rape, such as: “Prepare for a challenging year ahead which includes losing your virginity to a rapist.” It includes a call to action for accepted students to sign a petition demanding accountability.

So as you make the exciting, monumental decision about where you’re going to go to college, here are a few key questions to keep in mind.

How does the school educate students about its sexual violence policies?

Under Title IX, schools are required to address “hostile environments” created by sexual discrimination, violence, and harassment. Prevention education falls under this umbrella. The 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter from the Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights, which clarified schools’ obligations for dealing with sexual violence under Title IX, recommends that schools “implement preventive educational programs” and demands that they widely disseminate their grievance procedures. However, schools aren’t required to make their prevention programs mandatory.

According to a recent study by the University of New Hampshire’s Prevention Innovations Research Center, in order to really understand a school’s rules and policies and put them into practice, students need to be forced to “process and practice them.” In other words: Emailing an educational video around to the student body during orientation is not enough. For instance, if there is a required reading of the school’s policies, it should be followed by a facilitated discussion.

You should also check and see if the sexual violence prevention training the school provides is mandatory, and if any trainings are held beyond freshman year. “A lot of campuses just do [a prevention program] during orientation or that first week of school, when a lot of students are away from home for the very first time,” says Sharyn Potter, associate professor of sociology and co-director of UNH’s Prevention Innovations Research Center. “They’re trying to figure out how to buy books and how to get to classes, and to throw this message in, it’s going to be lost. I’d want to know how, when, where they’re doing [the prevention program], and is it mandatory?”

What is the school’s record?

Yes, it’s true that the Clery Act requires schools to report campus crime statistics, and those numbers are searchable through an online database. But keep in mind that those numbers are a small part of the story. The definition of “on campus” varies by institution, and the assault numbers included in that data are only cases that are reported to campus authorities.

“What we know is the majority of students who are sexually assaulted are going to disclose to a friend or roommate and not go to an authority,” Sharyn says. But it’s still worth researching a school to see if there have been any major cases and how they handled them. That can be as easy as doing an online search for the name of the school and “campus sexual assault” to see what comes up.

Will you get in trouble if you report an assault that occurred in an environment of underage drinking?

It’s important to know whether or not the school offers amnesty in these situations — meaning students breaking school rules, such as drinking while underage or taking drugs at the time of their assault, are immune from punishment for those offenses when they report.

What resources does the campus offer survivors, and how does the school handle perpetrators?

Obviously, the hope is that nothing happens while you’re on campus. But if it does, it’s good to know what the school offers in terms of support for survivors — both personally, and in moving forward with the adjudication process should they decide they’d like to pursue justice. According to SAFER, an organization that strengthens student-led movements to combat sexual violence, beyond fulfilling federally mandated Title IX requirements, good school policies include: Offering 24/7 crisis services every day of the school year, unlimited, free long-term counseling for survivors, and sexual assault response training for staff and faculty. (You can see its definition of a good college policy here.) You’ll want to see if you can easily find these resources on the school’s website.

Regarding perpetrators, other questions to consider include: Are the perpetrators expelled? Does the school enforce no-contact orders, so that the person who assaulted you can’t be in your dorm or in your class?

Also important: Gauge how open students, administrators, and staff are to your questions about sexual assault policies and prevention. Are they willing to talk about these issues? You’ll want to choose a school that listens to its current — and prospective! — students.

Related: Campus Sexual Assault Is an Epidemic — But What Are We Doing About It?

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can seek help by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673).

For more resources on sexual assault, visit RAINN, End Rape on Campus, Know Your IX, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.