To: The Campus Community
From: Thomas F. Rosenbaum, Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and Professor of Physics
Date: May 26, 2020
Re: Title IX Regulations
Earlier this month, the Department of Education released new Title IX regulations, effective August 14, 2020, that govern how colleges and universities respond to reports of sexual misconduct. These regulations culminate a process that began in November 2018 when the Department issued proposed rules that drew more than 100,000 responses from institutions and organizations nationwide, including concerns expressed by Caltech.
Despite these efforts, the final regulations do not differ markedly from their original formulation, and we must implement changes to our Title IX procedures. These changes are required to be put into practice on a relatively short timeline and during the continued upheaval brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Caltech remains resolute in fostering an environment that respects each individual's full humanity and encourages their full inclusion in its educational, research, and extracurricular programs. All community members will continue to be protected under Caltech's policies. We will respond to the Department of Education mandates focused on the safety and well-being of each member of our community.
The new requirements narrow the scope of misconduct covered under Title IX, excluding off-campus sexual misconduct, for example, at the same time that they introduce specific requirements for investigations of Title IX-covered misconduct, namely the questioning of each individual directly by the other's advisor, who may be an attorney, at a hearing. Importantly, they permit institutions to address sexual misconduct falling outside of Title IX under their own policies. We will be continuously examining our options under federal and state law to make our policies consonant with our values and as effective as possible. The Equity and Title IX Office has provided information explaining the significant aspects and applicability of the new regulations to our campus.
As an Institute, we continue to reinforce efforts to improve the campus climate and prevent misconduct. This past year, we further expanded the resources of our Equity and Title IX Office, adding a fifth group member, Campus Sexual Violence Advocate Teresa Mejia. We also participated again in the Association of American Universities (AAU) Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct and are using the results to inform program goals, outreach, and training. At a national level, Caltech is a founding member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Action Collaborative on Preventing Sexual Harassment in Higher Education. In this forum we work with our peers to develop strategies to stop sexual harassment and raise awareness of its negative and enduring effects.
At the same time that the Institute continues to search for better ways to address this challenge, each individual also has a responsibility to act. I urge all of you to familiarize yourselves with the Gender-Based Misconduct Policy. Please also exercise vigilance in your interactions with others, particularly those with less power and influence, to ensure your actions are respectful and fair. With such efforts at the individual, administrative, and organizational levels, we have an opportunity to build a stronger, safer, and more inclusive community.