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CSU system is failing to meet some Title IX requirements, report says

(KRON) — The California State University system is failing to meet certain Title IX requirements involving discrimination and sexual misconduct, according to a new report released by the California State University Board of Trustees.

The CSU Board of Trustees initiated a review of its processes which are aimed at preventing discrimination on campus. Cozen O’Connor, a San Francisco law firm was hired to conduct the assessment.

All students and staff are bound by the CSU Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Exploitation, Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Retaliation. However, when it comes to the process of investigating incidents of misconduct, the CSU system is not meeting the mark, the report states.

The report claims that the current arbitration process on CSU campuses is overly complicated and burdensome for all parties involved. One result of these complications is only a small percentage of claims reported to campus administration lead to a formal investigation.

This means that students on campus who are impacted by prohibited conduct don’t necessarily trust that the system will work for them. As a result, many students choose not to file formal complaints at all.

Another challenge is that many campuses do not have the ability to discipline those on campus who may do things that do not meet the conduct requirements for the college system. Even if a student chooses to file a complaint and an investigation proves misconduct happened, they likely won’t see any kind of recognizable justice, the report says.

The report also argues that individuals impacted by misconduct should not have to face the investigation process alone.

“While respecting individual agency and autonomy is crucial, the burden should not solely rest on the complainant to seek accountability. Nationally, low numbers of formal complaints are somewhat common, but it is incumbent on the CSU to better understand and evaluate the barriers to reporting, engagement, and participation.”

The university system is also facing is a shortage of experienced Title IX and Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation (DHR) professionals. Many in these roles are learning on the job while managing an unreasonable workload, because the schools do not have enough employees to properly handle all Title IX requirements, according to the report. This results in some investigations lasting over a year, and some students deciding not to continue due to the length.

The lack of infrastructure partially explains the long waits that school members face when they file complaints as well as the communication challenges throughout the process. The report noted a significant difference in documentation of these incidents across the CSU campuses, so it’s difficult to compare how each campus stacks up against the next.

Students are not the only ones faced with unreasonable challenges throughout the reporting process. When it comes to the employee sanctioning process, the mark is also not being met:

“With respect to Title IX and the Clery Act in particular, the post-finding disciplinary processes, as implemented, are not aligned with federal requirements,” the report says.

The report lists several areas that the CSU system can focus on to work towards providing a more effective Title IX and DHR process. One suggestion is providing university members with a dedicated advocate for each step of the investigation process. The report also suggests that advocates clearly document each step of the process and provide a full and detailed report to the person who filed the complaint once the investigation concludes.

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“We understand that many of the issues addressed in this report are complex, fraught, and are not easily reconciled with pithy solutions. They require partnership – between federal and state governments, between higher education and government, and between faculty, staff, administrators, and students.” — California State University Institutional Response Group


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