On November 16, 2018, the Department of Education through its Office for Civil Rights, opened a series of proposed regulations for public comment. Interested parties anticipated the release of the regulations for some time, following the Department of Education’s 2017 rescission of the Obama administration’s 2011 “Dear Colleague”. The 2011 letter required educational institutions receiving federal funds to use a preponderance of the evidence standard in adjudicating institutional sexual assault proceedings, among other things. The recent proposal makes that standard permissive, rather than mandatory, while stressing that institutional proceedings must preserve a presumption of innocence on the part of the accused. Though many groups applaud the new proposals, others raise concerns that the proposals stand to harm victims of sexual assault.
In a world where sexual assault occurrences on college campuses are becoming more readily recognized and reported, one of the many arising issues is how to appropriately respond to the allegations. Facing college disciplinary boards is one of the principal battlegrounds. With cases of sexual assault often lacking enough evidence for police action, many have demanded that colleges take responsibility for their students’ safety. However, in a situation where it is already “he said, she said,” what is the appropriate evidentiary standard for reprimand?
The NCAA has focused on gender equality in intercollegiate athletics by complying with federal and state laws and establishing an inclusive environment free of gender bias. This article outlines some of the challenges colleges face in maintaining compliance with these laws.