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Faculty Senate approves revisions to dispute procedure policy

BY RISHABH R. JAIN | DECEMBER 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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After more than 15 years, the University of Iowa Faculty Dispute Procedure Policy is being revised.

Changes that had already been approved by the Faculty Senate via email were formally voted on during the UI Faculty Senate meeting Tuesday in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber — changes that include limiting the resolution time for Title IX cases to 60 days.

Georgina Dodge, the UI's chief diversity officer, said this is one of the biggest challenges for UI, because Title IX cases at the university take an average of 240 days.

A faculty member raised concerns that the smaller time frame might adversely affect reporting of incidents.

Dodge, who addressed that question, said she believes this may actually increase reporting, because the university will hire a new investigative officer.

“We are hoping that reporting will increase,” Dodge said. “We have been looked at by the [Office of Civil Rights], and [officials] tell us we are taking too long. And we also want to increase marketing so people know who to contact.”

However, another member of the Senate, psychology Professor Edward Wasserman, said that while he believes 240 days is too long a period of time to complete an investigation, a 60-day limit may hinder investigation procedure.

“The pendulum swing seems to be such a short period of time now; one wonders about a rush to judgment,” he said. “There are external forces requiring us to follow this timeline, but whether it proves to be workable is something that only time will tell.”

The Faculty Senate decided to make the changes after the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights had asked universities and colleges to expand the reach of Title IX in a “Dear Colleague” Letter sent out in April 2011.

Title IX “prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs of activities operated by recipients of federal financial aid,” according to the Faculty Dispute Procedures operation manual.
Maria Lukas, a UI deputy general counsel, read aloud the changes being made and also explained what the expansion of Title IX meant.

“It took a while for institutions of higher education to observe the meaning of the letter,” Lukas said. “The letter shifted the focus of Title IX from only athletics to all other departments. Title IX calls for gender equity in all programs.”

Lukas noted that under the new interpretation of Title IX, sexual harassment will be considered sexual discrimination and thus treated as a Title IX case.

The letter also provided mandatory guidelines to institutions regarding how to deal with cases of sexual harassment on campus. Lukas said the policy revision seeks to bring the UI Faculty Dispute Procedures in line with these guidelines.

Title IX cases will no longer be mediated and the standard of proof required in those cases has also come down a notch from “clear and concise” to “by the preponderance.” This would make it easier to charge respondents in Title IX cases.


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