Much of the renewed interest around Title IX can be attributed to more guidance from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and communication from the White House about campus sexual assaults, said Scott Lewis, a founder of the Association of Title IX administrators.
Lewis, who’s also a partner with the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, has helped train thousands of college and university investigators.
Schools have been criticized in recent years for not doing enough to make victims of sexual misconduct feel safe on campus and for questioning victims’ character, sexual behavior and drinking habits, among other things, Lewis said.
It’s possible that some schools are overcorrecting now for past mistakes, he said.
“For a long time, the pendulum was swung very heavily to the due process rights of the accused, at the expense of the victim at times,” Lewis said. “So as the pendulum begins to come back to the middle, and we have good impartial decisions made by investigators, there are some schools that have swung that pendulum a little far.”
In an April 2014 newsletter, Brett Sokolow, executive director of the Association of Title IX Administrators, described his recent involvement in five cases where he believed universities mistakenly found men guilty of sexual misconduct when alcohol was involved.
“Finding each of the accused in violation of sexual misconduct is sex discrimination,” he wrote. “We are making Title IX plaintiffs out of them.”