- The U.S. Department of Education said Friday it expects to release in April its proposed regulation governing Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination and violence in educational settings.
- This means the department plans on issuing the draft version of the rule a month earlier than initially anticipated. The final iteration will dictate policies for how colleges must investigate and potentially punish reports of sexual misconduct.
- However, the adjusted timeline did not please some advocates for sexual assault survivors, who had demanded the Biden administration unveil its proposal even earlier. A coalition of six groups wanted it by October of this year.
The regulatory proposal is set to fulfill one of President Joe Biden's key campaign pledges for higher education: to replace the Title IX rule devised by former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
DeVos' rule, which took effect in August 2020, was panned by survivor advocates, who argued it dissuaded victims from reporting and gave license to colleges to disregard episodes of sexual violence.
Due process activists championed the DeVos regulation, saying it corrected improper processes instituted by the Obama administration. Its guidance on Title IX had been widely credited with drawing new national attention to campus sexual assault.
The DeVos rule has been subject to legal challenges, but courts have almost entirely preserved it. The rule sets up a judiciary-style system for judging sexual misconduct cases. It allows a student who reported sexual violence and a student accused of sexual violence to cross-examine the other through an adviser of their choosing.
The new April release target reflects the Department of Education's "commitment to work as speedily as possible toward appropriate and effective regulation," Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights at the agency, said in a statement Friday.
Survivor activists disagreed the department is moving quickly.
Know Your IX, a prominent advocacy group, said on Twitter that a new rule wouldn't likely come into effect until the 2022-23 academic year under the Biden administration's current timetable.
The organization said the administration should take steps to change Title IX practices even before the new regulation is issued. It said the department could opt not to enforce parts of the DeVos rule it deems most harmful. It could also amend a policy that outlines when federal officials can follow up on Title IX complaints made to the department's Office for Civil Rights.
"It’s unacceptable that survivors have been forced to wait for protections that the Biden Admin should have given us months ago," Know Your IX said on Twitter.
Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women's Law Center, said in a statement Friday that the group was pleased the Biden administration was starting to restore Title IX protections but the current rule "should not still be on the books."
"Across the country, students are protesting at their schools and demanding more support for survivors of sexual violence, who schools have failed for far too long," Goss Graves said. "We need our government to match their efforts and urgency."