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Friday, January 15, 2021

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Biden could bring higher education policy, Title IX changes


Biden’s presidency could bring big changes to higher education policies, such as waiving tuition for some, forgiving student loans for others and changing the Title IX policy back to Obama-era regulations. | Juana Garcia/The Cougar

President-elect Joe Biden could usher in drastic changes for higher education policies under his administration, including alterations to the federal law banning sex discrimination on college campuses. 

Biden wants to accomplish more than forgiving student loans for public servants and making public colleges and universities tuition-free for families that bring in under $125,000 annually.

He has also expressed support for rolling back Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ Title IX regulations on campus sexual assault. 

“The UHS Sexual Misconduct Policy will be revised as appropriate to comply with any changes in the laws related to Title IX,” said assistant vice chancellor and vice president for the Office of Equal Opportunity Services Toni Sanchez Benoit on how the Title IX policy will be affected if DeVos’ changes are rolled back. 

“Regardless of what those changes look like, we will continue to provide equal rights to both parties through a thorough investigation process where each party has access to support resources and the opportunity to be heard,” Sanchez Benoit added. 

During her tenure, DeVos revoked the sexual violence mitigation guidance proposed in the 2011 Dear Colleague letter and increased rights for those accused of sexual misconduct.

Effective in August, sexual assault claims are required to be judged in live hearings and schools will not have to investigate allegations for most incidents that take place off-campus.   

“The Biden administration will likely … revert to the prior rules for dealing with allegations of sexual assault,” said political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus.  

Experts believe Biden is likely to undo several of the changes put in place under DeVos’ tenure.

He’s likely to widen Title IX’s jurisdiction to again encompass off-campus incidents and to change the sexual assault hearing process to exclude two-party cross-examination via surrogate. 

However, these changes may not come until the end of his first term, similar to the timeline for DeVos’ rules. 

“Any potential changes to Title IX under the new administration are likely to take some time, since the current administration went through the formal rule-making process to give the current Title IX regulations the force of law,” Sanchez Benoit said. 

In the meantime, EOS continues to monitor the news and attend trainings to ensure preparedness for any future Title IX changes. 

We are incredibly mindful of the impact that Title IX changes can have on the UH community and work to ensure that we comply with the law while also maintaining a community of care and safety in our community members’ living, learning and working environment,” Sanchez Benoit said.  

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