ETSU Title IX coordinator responds to US Dept. of Education’s new guidelines

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Last month the United States Department of Education released new guidelines for Title IX, which protects people from sex-based discrimination in education.

“This is the first kind of major regulatory change to Title IX since it was initially released in the 70s,” said Garrison Burton, East Tennessee State University’s Title IX Coordinator.

Some of the changes include defining “sexual harassment” to include stalking, domestic and dating violence, having multiple investigators working complaints, changing the obligation to respond to reports that occur off-campus…including study abroad, and not requiring a specific time frame for responding to reports.

“Off-campus ability for us to perform these investigations is probably going to be really curtailed by the new regulations,” Burton said. “I do have some concern as to whether or not the new regulations and maybe the live hearings might play some role in deterring students from wanting to pursue a full investigation.”

A major concern for Burton is holding live hearings for complaints.

“This live hearing introduces almost this type of cross-examination where the accuser and the accused will be put in a position where they’re asking questions and having to answer questions by an advisor of another party,” Burton said.

Some students worry that this will discourage victims from coming forward.

“It has the potential to ruin a lot of experiences because if we don’t have the jurisdiction over it… it becomes harder for us to go to those places to have those experiences provided for students,” said ETSU’s Executive Vice President for the Student Government Association. “That average student who might not have extensive knowledge about this but might hear a few things might be deterred at the end of the day from coming forward.”

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