St. Olaf College is committed to a respectful, safe, and healthy environment and does not tolerate sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual misconduct in any form. Prohibited behaviors include, but are not limited to, unwelcome sexual conduct or communication, rape and other forms of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. These behaviors are not only violations of an individual’s rights and dignity, but are also attacks on our college community and violations of college policy. In addition, some forms of these behaviors are crimes.
St. Olaf is also committed to promptly, impartially, and equitably addressing and resolving all reports of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, and sexual misconduct. When the college finds that such behavior has occurred it will take steps to stop the behavior, to prevent its recurrence, and to remedy its effects.
Use the navigation links on the left to learn more about the college’s Title IX Policy, and to access information and resources to support anyone who has been affected by, knows of, or wants to help prevent an incident or pattern of behavior. There are many individuals you can contact with questions and concerns, beginning with the St. Olaf College Title IX Coordinator Jo Beld (507‑786‑3632).
NOTICE TO ST. OLAF COMMUNITY REGARDING RECENT CHANGES IN TITLE IX ENFORCEMENT GUIDANCE
You may have seen news of an Announcement from the Office of Civil Rights that it is rescinding its 2011 Dear Colleague Letter and a subsequent Q&A guidance that was issued in 2014. OCR also issued new Q&A guidance today relating to how OCR expects educational institutions to address reports of sexual misconduct on campus. Although various advocacy groups are either hailing or criticizing this as a major change in the law, this new guidance actually changes very little about the way in which St. Olaf responds to allegations of sexual misconduct. Many of the issues raised in this new guidance are issues that were considered and addressed by the Title IX Working Group that the assisted the College in revising its policy over the previous academic year.
Here are some notable issues raised by the new guidance with details about how St. Olaf’s policy relates to them:
Timeframe: The OCR has abandoned the 60-day time limit for completing an investigation and adjudication process. Our current policy states that we will strive to complete our process within 60 days, but we can and will take longer if circumstances require this. We will continue to monitor the Department’s guidance and practices of other institutions, but we anticipate that, like most schools, we will continue to use a policy that seeks to promptly respond to allegations but in a manner that provides a fair and impartial process for all parties.
Notices of Charges: The Q&A provides detailed requirements for notifying accused students of the charges made against them. These requirements include providing written notice of the details of the allegations, along with sufficient time to prepare for the investigation before it proceeds. This guidance arises from practices at some institutions where an investigation commenced at the same time an accused student was informed of the allegations. That has never been the process at St. Olaf. Our current policy provides accused students with a charge letter with information that includes information about the allegations made against the accused student, the investigation process, the right to an advisor of choice (including the right to have an attorney), and other important information.
Mediation: When the St. Olaf policy was revised last year, it included a process for voluntary informal resolution in cases where all of the parties involved expressed interest in resolving cases in this manner. We are gratified that the new guidance makes it explicit that such a practice is in compliance with Title IX.
Standard of Proof: OCR has abandoned the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter which required schools to adjudicate cases under a “preponderance of the evidence” or “more likely than not” standard. The new guidance states that schools can either use this standard or a heightened standard of “clear and convincing” evidence. We will want to give careful thought to which standard we feel is best and as with all changes in policy, will want to ensure that any revisions are informed by the voices of the members of our community.