Wheaton College recently entered into a Settlement Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve a Title IX sexual assault and harassment investigation that was being conducted by DOJ. This was a swift settlement considering that DOJ initiated the investigation and compliance review on August 31, 2015 (in contrast to the general back-log of investigations by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights). The link to the Settlement Agreement can be found here.
The Settlement Agreement requires Wheaton College to make various changes to it’s sexual assault and harassment policies and procedures. Broadly speaking, Wheaton College committed to taking the following actions.
- Draft revisions to its policies and procedures pertaining to sex discrimination to clarify conduct prohibited by Title IX, where and how students should report various types of sex discrimination, and procedures to be followed in connection with reports of sex discrimination.
- Wheaton will provide all students and employees with written notice regarding the revised policies prohibiting sex discrimination and the grievance procedures for resolving sex discrimination complaints, in addition information will be provided on how a copy of the policies and procedures can be obtained.
- It will revise its Title IX training and provide it to its Title IX Coordinator, Case Investigators, members of the Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board, and any other College employees who will be directly involved in the processing, investigating, and/or resolving complaints of sex discrimination or who will otherwise assist in the coordination of Title IX compliance.
- Wheaton committed to developing a system for tracking and reviewing reports, investigations, interim measures, and resolutions of student and employee conduct to ensure that reports of sex discrimination are adequately, reliably, promptly, and impartially investigated and resolved.
Each of the 4 items above contain specific and particular compliance requirements to be undertaken by Wheaton. Although these obligations are part of a voluntary resolution and do not have the force of a regulation or guidance letter, they might be instructive markers for what institutions should be doing in order to meet their compliance obligations in the eyes of what OCR/DOJ.