You need your school to help you excel in the best of times, and support you through the worst. You expect the administration to listen when things are at their darkest, but new federal guidelines could make it harder for you to speak up.
Over 200 public universities have expressed concern as federal regulations change how they address sexual assault and harassment accusations. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities says the new guidelines will likely dissuade many students from coming forward.
The rules in place for universities are getting a few significant amendments:
• Cross-examination: Colleges will now have to grant cross-examinations in live hearings. You may have to face questions in a public setting from a representative or lawyer of the person you accuse of wrongdoing.
• Stricter evidence: The former guidelines called for schools to allow evidence that was at least likely to be true. The new federal rules could increase your barrier for entering proof to “clear and convincing.”
• Serious claims: You’ll need to use that stronger evidence to show higher levels of severity. The former policy set the standard at “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” The rule is now for “unwelcome conduct … so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive” that it affects your ability to attend school.
Experiencing a situation that leads to these proceedings can be life changing, and pursuing a claim afterward may be difficult to bear. Increased protections for the accused could make your lawsuit even more challenging to undertake. However, navigating the process with the support of an experienced attorney on your side can help to minimize the emotional strain and lead to a just conclusion.