Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
In response to the U.S. Department of Education’s Final Rule under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 issued on May 6, 2020, and carrying the full force and effect of law as of August 14, 2020, Gonzaga University has implemented a revised Title IX – Sexual Harassment Policy. This revised policy is a component Gonzaga University’s Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy.
In recent years, the term “Title IX” has been utilized in reference to the University disciplinary processes involving reports and complaints of sex discrimination and sexual harassment (which includes sexual assault, stalking and dating and domestic violence). The 2020 Department of Education federal regulations, effective August 14, 2020, define sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct more narrowly than Gonzaga’s policy and require specific procedures for investigating and adjudicating allegations that meet the federal definitions and other criteria, such as where the alleged conduct occurred. While the new regulations have led to the development of two separate yet similar grievance processes, each is a component of the institution’s over-arching Harassment and Non-Discrimination Policy. Gonzaga University will continue to address all complaints of sexual misconduct and will investigate and assess formal complaints to determine if existing Gonzaga Policy and/or the new federal rules apply. Visit the Title IX page for Frequently Asked Questions, Support Resources and Reporting options.
The Title IX Final Rule, which is over 2,000 pages long, was issued on May 19, 2020, with an effective date of August 14, 2020. This limited three-month window for implementation overlapped with the COVID-19 pandemic and elapsed over the summer when many community members were no longer on campus. As such, while development of the revised policy involved multiple departments on campus and included communication with the Title IX Steering Committee the time frame and circumstances did not afford the university opportunity for the level of engagement with faculty, staff, and students that such significant issues on campus would normally command.
The development and implementation of the Title IX – Sexual Harassment Policy was required to remain compliant with federal law and therefore was not subject to the University’s formal Policy Development and Approval Process. The process did however involve extensive consultation with external legal counsel with subject matter expertise.
Gonzaga University remains committed to taking all appropriate steps to eliminate sexual harassment, prevent its reoccurrence and address its effects within our educational programs and activities as well as in our community at large. Gonzaga University continues its commitment to fostering a climate free from sex and gender-based harassment, sexual assault, stalking, domestic and dating violence, and/or retaliation through clear and effective policies, coordinated education and prevention programs and the prompt and equitable resolution of all complaints of sexual harassment. Gonzaga will not condone or tolerate any sexual harassment from any member of the University community and will respond according to the severity and pervasiveness of the offense in alignment with the applicable University Policy.
Regardless of the resolution process, sex-based discrimination and harassment are negatively impactful to the community and to the individuals involved. As such, the University is committed to providing information, resources, and support to the campus community and to impacted students, staff and faculty for all Title IX and Non-Title IX complaints regardless of where or when it occurred, or by whom. Such supportive measures include, but are not limited to connection to emergency, medical, and other University support resources, and reasonable academic and work accommodations.
Potential continuing evolution of federal rules
At this time multiple lawsuits with the potential to impact the application and requirements of the Title IX Final Rule have been filed. While courts reviewing these lawsuits have not yet delayed or modified the rule, additional hearings are scheduled in the months ahead. The outcome of the upcoming presidential election may impact the Title IX Final Rule as well.
Going forward, the University will continue to monitor the lawsuits and other potential rule changes, updating and engaging the campus community.