Students at HBCUs are especially in a difficult position because these particular colleges and universities are already disenfranchised in comparison to PWIs. A student might falsely believe that they are responsible for financial damages their HBCU might incur due to violation of Title IX or the Clery Act. It is important to note that students are not responsible for their school’s noncompliance. It is the sole duty of administrators to properly address sexual violence on their campus and protect its students. Additionally, many Title IX violations do not result in defunding schools and some institutions have been able to reduce Clery Act fines. It is important that HBCU students understand that if you love something, hold it accountable. Title IX, Title VI, Title II, and Clery Act complaints are put in place to hold schools accountable for their actions and make substantial change on college campuses in order for all students to have equal access to educational programs and activities. There are cases where HBCUs are being threatened with closure or have already closed due to financial reasons unrelated to fines from the Department of Education. However, it is not the responsibility of survivors and HBCU students to save their campuses despite the overwhelming rape problem. Filing Title IX complaints is one way that students can feel safe on their campus and receive the justice they deserve.
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity that receives federal funding. Title IX addresses sexual harassment, sexual violence, or any gender-based discrimination that may deny a person access to educational benefits and opportunities.
Under Title IX, an institution is legally obligated to promptly and effectively take the necessary measures to adequately address any factors that creates a hostile environment, address its effects, and prevent its reoccurrence. Schools must be proactive in ensuring an educational program free of sex discrimination by establishing a system in which to efficiently conduct an equitable and impartial investigation of cases of sexual violence on campus. Institutions are prohibited from offering mediation services as means of an investigation between the survivor and perpetrator as a means to mediate campus sexual violence.
Furthermore, an institution must provide necessary interim measures to protect a survivor while an investigation is underway, such as:
Providing survivors with counseling resources
Explaining a survivor’s options to report cases of sexual assault both internally and externally
Protecting survivors from retaliation by issuing no contact orders, changing dorms, or classes, etc.
Title IX also prohibits institutions from holding biased investigation proceedings or retaliating against the survivor. An impartial investigation must provide a timeframe of all important stages of the grievance process with access to any proceedings documents, transcripts, and recordings, allow both parties to adequately present their case with appropriate witnesses and relevant evidence, resolve the case based on a preponderance of evidence standard, and simultaneously notify both parties in writing of the outcome with an explanation and notice of the disciplinary sanctions, if any, and the possibility of filing an appeal.. If one party is allowed an opportunity during the grievance process, such as having a lawyer, bringing in witnesses, or filing an appeal the other party has the right to the same equal treatment and opportunity.
If an investigation reveals that sexual violence created a hostile environment, a school must take prompt and reasonably effective steps to end the sexual violence, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects. Some appropriate remedies can include disciplinary action against the perpetrator, however, it can also consist of academic support without penalties, counseling, or remedies for the broader student population like sexual misconduct policy and orientation reform.
Title IX works collectively with other anti discrimination laws such as Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Colleges and universities are required to provide support to students who are at risk for discrimination based on race, nationality, disability, or sexuality. For more information on Title IX and filing a complaint click here.
The Clery Act and Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights
The Clery Act is a federal law that requires colleges and universities to disclose crime statistics on and around the campus. More specifically the Clery Act, in regard to sexual assault, requires colleges and universities to publish an Annual Security Report, disclose crime statistics on and around campus, and issue timely warnings to the campus that poses a serious or ongoing threat to students and employees.
Additionally, the Clery Act supplements Title IX with the Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights. The Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights is intended to expand the rights survivors have on college campuses and requires institutions to give additional support to survivors. Under the Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights students have the following rights:
To be informed of their right to notify law enforcement and be assisted by campus authorities in doing so
To be informed of counseling, mental health, or student services on and off campus with contact information included
To be informed of options for changing academic and living accommodations
Institutions must also implement internal disciplinary sanctions for sexual assault cases; They also must disclose possible sanctions that may be executed following a final outcome
The complainant and respondent must have the same opportunity to have others, such as an advocate, witnesses, etc. present during the grievance process
The complainant and respondent must be informed of the outcome at the same time by email; this disclosure is unconditional, meaning that the survivor is free to share the outcome with anyone they want. For more information on the Clery Act and filing a complaint click here.
There is an immediate need to update, or release guidance for, Title VI to be inclusive of the discrimination and inequalities students of color experience at colleges and universities today, which includes sexual violence. Title VI, and historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), were were created to give students of color, who were barred from academia by segregation and Jim Crow laws, access to higher education. However, there continues to be discrimination outside of segregation that prevents students of color from accessing equal educational opportunities. As students of color, even those attending HBCUs, continue to be denied educational access,Title VI must also address any issue that may prevent a student of color from educational opportunities. This includes focusing on issues such as sexual violence, racialized hate crimes, and the lack of culturally competent policies as means of denying students of color equal access to educational programs and activities.
Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Title VI in conjunction with Title IX, can be used to address sexual violence against people of color.
Under Title VI, law institutions are legally obligated to take the necessary measures to ensure equal educational access to all races, ethnicities, and nationalities. These actions may include nondiscriminatory practices in programs and activities such as: admissions, recruitment, financial aid, student treatment and services, counseling , discipline, grading, athletics, housing and employment. Title VI also protects students from retaliation. If a survivor of color was discriminated against on the basis of gender and race after a sexual assault, for instance, by using racist stereotypes against a survivor of color in order to dismiss a case, they can argue they were not afforded an equal opportunity to educational access.
Although Title VI doesn’t specifically list what is covered in its guidelines, students of color still hold the same right as anyone else to feel safe and protected while on campus. Due to interactions between marginalized identities, institutions can discriminate against people due to their status as a survivor and race. Filing a joint Title IX and Title VI complaint can specifically support survivors of color so that they can describe how institutions are commonly insensitive to communities of color, are poorly trained, and lack cultural competency when addressing campus sexual assault.
If you are a survivor of color and your identity intersects with other marginalized groups such as LGBTQ, disability, low income, etc. please view those resources on CTM main page.