CSU says it won’t change sexual assault policies yet, amid Title IX rollbacks

California State Univerity Chancellor Timothy White.
California State Univerity Chancellor Timothy White.

The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights on Friday announced it was rescinding a pair of Barack Obama-era Title IX documents providing guidance concerning sexual violence, prompting California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White to respond in a public letter.

“As we wait for the OCR’s process to unfold, I assure you CSU’s existing policies will continue to protect our students and employees, and provide a fair process for all,” White wrote, adding that the university system policies are in line with state and federal laws and regulations.

White wrote also that the CSU, which includes Cal Poly, “will be strong participants” in OCR’s planned public comment process on new Title IX regulations.

The “Dear Colleague letter” sent by Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson said it was rescinding 2011 and 2014 letters requiring schools adopt a “preponderance of evidence” standard for sexual violence allegations, allowing alleged victims of sexual violence to appeal a not-guilty finding, preventing alleged perpetrators from cross-examining their alleged victims and discouraging schools from relying on criminal investigations.

“The 2011 and 2014 guidance documents may have been well-intentioned, but those documents have led to the deprivation of rights for many students — both students denied fair process and victims denied an adequate resolution to their complaints,” Jackson wrote.

Jackson wrote further that the Department of Education will implement a new Title IX policy “that responds to public comment.”

She wrote the department will rely on a pair of George W. Bush-era Title IX documents in the meantime.

“In the forty-five years since the passage of Title IX, we have seen remarkable progress toward an educational environment free of sex discrimination,” Jackson wrote.

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 11.2 percent of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.

In a statement released Friday, RAINN wrote, “Today’s decision to change the rules before the public has a chance to provide this input will create confusion for colleges and risk protections for victims. The Department of Education has a responsibility to ensure we do not move backward and to protect victims' rights under existing law.”

Andrew Sheeler: 805-781-7929, @andrewsheeler