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U.S. Education Department Overhauls Title IX Policies

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Title IX compliance at RSU is overseen by the Director of Student Development and Title IX Coordinator. Their office is located at the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hillpost.

Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released new policies for Title IX regulations. Title IX is the popular name for the section of law in the Education Amendments of 1972 that concerns sex discrimination and sexual misconduct.

“This new regulation requires schools to act in meaningful ways to support survivors of sexual misconduct, without sacrificing important safeguards to ensure a fair and transparent process,” said DevVos. The statement released by the U.S. Education Department outlined key areas for reform that affect pre-K and K-12 schools as well colleges and universities that receive federal funding.

Betsy DeVos serves as the 11th U.S. Secretary of Education. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education.

Many education and advocacy groups have criticized the timing of the release of the 2,033 page document which would go into effect in August. As mandated by federal law, the U.S Education Department solicited feedback and allowed for public comment before adopting any regulations. Commentators raised concerns regarding the increased “adversarial” nature of the new regulations and how the process should “not replace civil or criminal justice systems.”

In the statement, the U.S. Education Department outlined a clear intent to “strengthen Title IX protections for survivors of sexual misconduct and to restore due process in campus proceedings.” The statement also announced “for first time ever, the Department’s Title IX regulations define sexual harassment, including sexual assault, as unlawful sex discrimination.”

Currently, Title IX investigations are considered administrative proceedings. Violations of Title IX policies on a college campus can result in administrative sanctions by the university such as expulsion or suspension. Title IX investigations or sanctioning are not considered criminal proceedings.

Other changes to Title IX regulations include allowing greater cross-examining or interviewing of the complainant, mandating a standard of evidence, and expanding Title IX oversight to “houses owned or under the control of school-sanctioned fraternities and sororities.” The full summary of key changes is available on the U.S Department of Education’s website.

Higher education organizations have drawn concerns with the new regulations. In a statement, the American Council on Education criticized the U.S. Department of Education’s release of the policy changes during the midst of a national pandemic. “The Department of Education is not living in the real world. As a result of the pandemic, virtually every college and university in the country is closed. Choosing this moment to impose the most complex and challenging regulations the agency has ever issued reflects appallingly poor judgment,” according to ACE.

​“The Department of Education is not living in the real world. As a result of the pandemic, virtually every college and university in the country is closed. Choosing this moment to impose the most complex and challenging regulations the agency has ever issued reflects appallingly poor judgment.”

Statement from the American Council on Education on may 6, 2020.

Similarly, Brett A. Sokolow, President of the Association of Title IX Administrators, has called the regulations “dramatic and even more far-reaching” for colleges and universities.

Madison McLaughlin, President of the RSU Student Government Association, has stated her intentions to gather feedback from students before drafting a resolution on the subject. “I don’t want to say my personal opinions are the opinions of the student body as a whole, but they should be made aware of a decision that affects them,” said McLaughlin.

Currently, the National Women’s Law Center has stated its intentions to roll back the new regulations. In a statement, Fatima Graves, President of the NWLC, said, “releasing this rule during the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 unveils a disturbing set of priorities. And if this rule goes into effect, survivors will be denied their civil rights and will get the message loud and clear that there is no point in reporting assault. We refuse to go back to the days when rape and harassment in schools were ignored and swept under the rug. And we won’t let DeVos succeed in requiring schools to be complicit in harassment, turning Title IX from a law that protects all students into a law that protects abusers and harassers. We will fight this unlawful rule in the courts.”

This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available.

Jake Brillhart serves as the editor-in-chief for the Hillpost. He is a junior studying public affairs with a focus in media communications. He frequently covers stories related to state and local government and campus policy. After graduation, Brillhart plans to pursue a Master of Public Administration and begin a career in higher education.

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Campus Life

Gallery: Fairest on the Hill Draws Crowds and Dazzles

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Juniors Trent Siever and Skye Fairbanks welcomes students and community members to Fairest on the Hill. This year, the event was held on the lawn of the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
Skye Fairbank welcomes everyone to Fairest on the Hill. Fairest on the Hill continued this year as a tradition of President’s Leadership Class. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
Tammy Ryan of the Oklahoma Military Academy Alumni Association raises her hand. Judges, from left to right, include Katie Warnick, Tammy Ryan, and Lori O’Malley. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
RSU student Atticus Wise waves to the audience during his introduction. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
RSU student Caden Coleman (right) performs a dance routine during a lip-sync performance. Coleman represented the Student Ambassadors program. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
RSU student Joseph “Josie” Gaither sings during his talent portion. Gaither sung a satirical song on his experiences in the Honors Program. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
Fairest on the Hill organizers look onward, as RSU student Joseph “Josie” Gaither sings. Fairest on the Hill is organized, annually, by the RSU President’s Leadership Class. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
A group of RSU students cheers during Joseph “Josie” Gaither’s performance. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
RSU student Brandon Xiong strums a guitar while singing a song. Xiong was assisted by fellow contestant Duy Pham. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
A crowd of student athletes clap after Brandon Xiong’s performance. Over 50 students and community members attended this year’s Fairest on the Hill. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
RSU Student Duy Pham sang during his talent portion. Pham represented the Association of International Students. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
Three students rock their phones while Duy Pham sings You Raise Me Up. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
RSU student Katrina Christian signs during performance. Christian is a redshirt junior playing women’s basketball at RSU. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
Katrina Christian points outward to the audience while RSU student Lily Garner dances in the background. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
RSU student Charity “Paige” Adams plays a singing bowl. Adams represented Alpha Sigma Tau. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
RSU students Molly Rhames and Taryn Thompson sit on lawn in front of the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center. This year, attendees were required to wear masks. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.


RSU student Carleigh Stallcup sings Se Tu M’ami. Stallcup represented Alpha Sigma Alpha. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
RSU student Gabe Seiler waves his “wand” during his talent performance. Seiler performed a magic trick for his skill. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
RSU student James VanOrsdol walks off stage after assisting Gabe Seiler. Seiler represented the Campus Activities Team. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
Scooba performs an unreleased single Through the Night. Through the Night released on Spotify and Apple Music on Friday night, October 2, 2020. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
RSU alumna Ashli Davis dances during her performance. Davis performed a series a synchronized hula hoop tricks as a part of her talent portion. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
RSU student Luke Huen sings Sixteen Tons. Huen represented the Student Threatre Organization. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
Trent Siever announces a door prize drawing during Fairest on the Hill. This year, multiple door prizes were given to attendees ranging from a QuikTrip gas card to a gift card to 918 Nutrition. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
Scooba thanks everyone for coming and supporting his career after winning first place. During his acceptance, Scooba recognized his faith and partner Vuye. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
The winners of Fairest on the Hill stand on stage. (From left to right) Scooba took first place, Caden Coleman took second place, and Joseph Gaither took third place. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.

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Student Government Holds First Meeting: Recognizes Black Student Association

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In their first meeting of the academic year, 36 students attended the Student Government Association Congress meeting. “We’re excited to have you hear, especially in person,” said student government vice president Darci Johnson.

Beginning at 1:21 p.m., the SGA called the meeting to order. All officers of the student government gave reports on their offices. SGA Public Relations Director Caden Coleman announced a freshman council and shared his social media account as a source of information. SGA President Madison McLaughlin and SGA Director of Diversity and Inclusion Yleana Esparza also shared their social media accounts.

Currently, the SGA Congress has not approved appropriations or formally established a freshman student government council. New business included recognizing two student organizations at RSU.

“We hope we get this student organization back on track,” said RSU student Giovanni Wahome. He represented the International Student Association and spoke about the perspective of international students at RSU. The International Student Association has previously been recognized as a registered student organization at RSU but fell into bad-standing with the SGA.

Wahome described disparities in international student services offered at RSU compared to other institutions under the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. Vice President Johnson objected to further questions by the Hill News regarding the association’s experience attempting to be recognized as a registered student organization again.

The International Student Association was officially recognized by the SGA Congress and passed unanimously. RSU student Kira Carter then presented Brothers and Sisters for Excellence, a proposed black student association, to the SGA Congress.

“It’s going to allow students to make connections,” said Carter. RSU has not had a recognized black student organization since being accredited as a four year, regional university.

“We can spread diversity across campus,” explained Carter. She described that Brothers and Sisters for Excellence as an inclusive student organization for RSU students. The proposed student organization was recognized and passed unanimously.

SGA President McLaughlin recognized incoming RSU Student Activities Coordinator Katie Warnick to share announcements. Warnick began working on August 25, 2020, and oversees campus events, student organization support services, and other university recreational activities.

Warnick announced that student organizations at RSU will be expected to adhere to COVID-19 activity guidelines. Warnick also announced that the SGA will be hosting the Student Organization Leadership Retreat on September 11, 2020. This annual event is traditionally required for student organizations in the spring semester but was not held to COVID-19.

RSU Libraries shared information about upcoming campus events, and President McLaughlin adjourned the meeting at 2:02 p.m.

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Gallery: Students Return To Campus for First Day

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An RSU freshman flashes a peace sign while walking from the Health Sciences Building. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
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Two RSU students walk from Loshbaugh Hall to the Dr. Carolyn Taylor Center after class. Students returned to class today for the fall semester. Photo by Jake Brillhart, the Hill News.
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