Messages to the Community

To: The W&L Community
From: President Will Dudley
Date: August 14, 2020
Re:  Interim Sexual Discrimination and Misconduct Policy

In May 2020, the Department of Education issued Title IX regulations that impact how institutions respond to Title IX sexual harassment.

As a result, Washington and Lee has implemented an Interim Sexual Discrimination and Misconduct Policy for this academic year, effective today, Aug. 14, 2020. This interim policy incorporates all legally required changes while providing time to gather input from the community and thoughtfully develop a final policy.

The new regulations narrow both the definition of sexual harassment that constitutes prohibited conduct under Title IX and the jurisdictional scope of the covered conduct. For conduct that fits within the narrowed definition of Title IX, the regulations impose specific procedural requirements for resolution of complaints, such as live, oral cross-examination by an advisor of choice.

While these regulations have required changes to some aspects of our Title IX resolution process, those changes only apply to the subset of sexual misconduct matters that meet the new Title IX definition and jurisdiction. We will continue to address the full range of complaints of sexual misconduct that we did under our previous Sexual Discrimination and Misconduct Policy. Conduct that now falls outside the scope of Title IX will be addressed using procedures substantively similar to our prior resolution processes.

Additionally, for both Title IX and non-Title IX sexual misconduct, we will continue to use a "preponderance of the evidence" standard to determine whether a policy violation occurred; have sexual misconduct training for faculty, staff, and students; require that responsible employees report instances of sexual misconduct; and provide support to complainants and respondents.

Lauren Kozak, W&L's Title IX coordinator, will offer a variety of training opportunities on our policy and procedures and host various discussion groups this year, giving community members an opportunity to provide feedback on our interim policy. Information about these events will be posted in Campus Notices and on the sexual misconduct website (go.wlu.edu/sexual-misconduct). I encourage you to take part in these discussions and share your thoughts on these issues.

As we continue to assess and modify the procedures by which we address these cases, and conform to current laws, regulations, and guidance, it is critical that we not lose sight of our commitment to building and sustaining a culture that is free from harassment and discrimination, including that based on sex. W&L does not discriminate on the basis of sex in the education programs or activities that we provide (including admission and employment), not only because we are required by Title IX and other applicable laws and regulations not to discriminate in such a manner, but because it is in keeping with our steadfast commitment to a community of trust and respect.

As we embark upon a new academic year amidst a global pandemic and widespread protests and conversations on issues of racial justice, it is more important than ever that we exhibit the care and respect for our community that we have long considered a hallmark of this institution. I thank you for joining me in this effort.

Will Dudley

* For questions about the policy or Title IX and its implementing regulations, or to make a report, contact Lauren E. Kozak, Title IX Coordinator, Elrod University Commons 212, 540-458-4055, kozakl@wlu.edu. Questions about Title IX and its implementing regulations may also be directed to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education. Reports of sexual misconduct may be made in person, by telephone, in writing, by email, or using the online report form, or by other means. Once a report of sexual misconduct is received, the university will contact the complainant to discuss resources, supportive measures, and the available resolution options, as set forth in the policy. Upon a report, a complainant may request supportive measures, to initiate the disciplinary process or informal resolution, or no further action. The disciplinary process is initiated by the filing of a formal complaint. Complainants may make formal complaints of sexual misconduct in written or electronic form. Formal complaints made by complainants must include the allegations of sexual misconduct, request that the university investigate the allegations, and include the complainant’s physical or digital signature, or in some way indicate that the complainant is the person filing the formal complaint. Upon receipt of a formal complaint, the disciplinary process will begin as described in the policy.

* For those employees without access to email, I ask that their supervisors print out this message and provide it and a copy of the interim policy to them.