Stanford established new procedures for handling cases of sexual misconduct on campus following the Department of Education’s 2020 release of updated federal Title IX guidelines. Here is a breakdown of the policies that stand today and what they mean for students reporting Title IX-related incidents at Stanford.
What is Title IX? How does it apply at Stanford?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that protects people from unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes sexual assault and other forms of sexual misconduct or violence. Title IX applies to any school or other education program that receives federal funding.
For Stanford’s Title IX Procedure to apply to a reported incident, the incident must fall within specific federal guidelines that define Title IX-prohibited conduct.
The SHARE Hearing Procedure and SHARE Investigation Procedure apply to cases that fall outside of Title IX jurisdiction but still violate University prohibited sexual conduct as defined by Administrative Guide 1.7.1. The SHARE Hearing Procedure is designed for cases in which the alleged perpetrator is a student or faculty member, while the SHARE Investigation Procedure applies to cases involving a student complainant where the alleged perpetrator is a staff member or postdoctoral scholar.
How can I report a Title IX-related incident?
Title IX-related incidents can be reported to the Stanford Title IX Coordinator, Stephen Chen, who is responsible for ensuring Stanford’s compliance with Title IX.
Note that any person may report an incident — even if they are not the person who experienced it. Mandatory Title IX reporters, which includes all residential staff, like resident assistants and resident fellows, and non-residential staff who work regularly with students, like faculty and coaches, are required to report incidents to the Title IX Office if they receive notice of a Title IX-related incident.
I’ve filed an Initial Report. What comes next? What supportive measures are available for those who report an incident?
After an initial report has been filed, the Title IX Office will reach out to the individual who reported the incident. The individual will be given information on how to file a Formal Complaint, which alleges Title IX-prohibited conduct against an alleged perpetrator and requests that the University investigate the allegation.
Stanford will also provide information to complainants about confidential counseling options on and off campus. Supportive Measures vary on a case by case basis, but some examples include changes in work or housing locations, course-related adjustments and a university-issued “No Contact” or similar directive, which prevents direct or indirect contact between two identified parties.
The complainant will also be informed of the importance of preserving evidence and finding witnesses, as well as their right — but not responsibility — to file a police report if the reported conduct could constitute a crime.
What is the typical timeline of a Title IX case?
After a Formal Complaint has been filed, the University will attempt to complete a Title IX Hearing within 120 days.
The next step after a Formal Complaint is an Investigation, during which student parties have access to six hours of free time with a University-Identified Attorney and can get help from a Process Support Person, who serves as an advisor. The Investigation is conducted by an individual chosen by the Title IX Officer or Deputy Title IX Officer. The Title IX Officer will ultimately decide whether the Investigation has found that the reported incident falls within the jurisdiction of the Title IX procedure and can proceed to a Hearing.
Hearings are typically virtual and include an oral cross-examination — unless both Parties choose to opt out, in which case a written cross-examination will occur. Parties are always given access to a Hearing Support Person and can get help from a free University-provided attorney for three hours of pre-Hearing preparation and unlimited time during the Hearing.
If a defendant is found guilty of violating the University’s Title IX policies, their discipline could include community service, probation, suspension or expulsion.
Are there options beyond the Investigation and Hearing process?
Yes, there are additional options other than the process of an Investigation and Hearing. These include an Intervention — a non-disciplinary alternative process facilitated by the University — as well as an Informal Resolution, which must be mutually agreed upon by both Parties. Complainants can also choose to withdraw their complaint. The majority of cases end in one of these non-hearing resolutions.
Can a student be disciplined for drug or alcohol violations if they are a student party or a witness to a reported incident?
After protests from sexual assault advocates following the release of Stanford’s new drug and alcohol policy, which went into effect on Sept. 1, the University revised its drug and alcohol policy to confirm that students who report Title IX incidents that involve illegal consumption of alcohol or drugs will not face disciplinary action.
Are disability accommodations available through the Title IX Office?
Yes; the Diversity and Access Office, along with the Office of Accessible Education or Human Resources, will work with the individual requesting accommodations and give recommended accommodations to the Title IX Office. Individuals will have the opportunity to appeal these recommended accommodations or note dissatisfaction with accommodations at the conclusion of a Hearing.
How has Stanford’s Title IX Policy changed in the past few years?
In 2020, the Department of Education released new regulations for sexual assault cases under Title IX. These regulations strengthened rights of the accused, lowered the bar for college liability and narrowed the range of incidents that universities are required to investigate. The regulations also narrowed the definition of sexual harassment, added live cross-examination to the Title IX procedure and allowed for mediation or informal resolutions, except if a student brought a complaint against a faculty or staff member.
In response, Stanford formed a drafting committee and released a draft proposal with opportunity for community feedback. Out of 25 recommendations made by student advocates, the University only adopted two, one of which was required by California law. But some advocates remain frustrated with the University’s Title IX process and support for survivors of sexual violence. Sophomores recently protested what they described as Stanford’s failure to protect survivors at a convocation protest, and members of Sexual Violence Free Stanford postered EVGR-A with ‘ResEd Protects Rapists.’