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Massachusetts HigherEd Association Criticizes Proposed Title IX Changes

The U.S. Department of Education’s proposed amendments to Title IX are being strongly criticized by the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM) and Harvard University.

Last week, the association submitted written comments to the department saying that the new rules would limit the ability of institutions to set up a responsive and fair process for their respective communities.

The comments also stated that the new regulations could deter victims from reporting sexual abuse and harassment in the first place.

“There are no greater priorities for Massachusetts colleges and universities than the well-being of their students, faculty, and staff, as well as the safety of their campuses,” said AICUM president Richard Doherty.

“AICUM’s member institutions remain dedicated to providing a learning and working environment that is free from discrimination and harassment, including on the basis of sex, as contemplated by Title IX.”

The changes were announced by the department in November, requiring institutions to respond and investigate every complaint of sexual harassment. The new rules, which were drafted after a year of research and collecting opinions from various stakeholders, also redefine sexual harassment, making it consistent with U.S. Supreme Court Title IX cases and adopting the Clery Act definition of sexual assault.

“Creating a community in which all of us can do our best work is my highest priority as president,” Harvard president Larry Bacow wrote in December.

“Everyone who calls this University home should be made to feel welcome and free from harassment, and each of us has an important role to play in ensuring that outcome. It will take sustained effort to make Harvard a place where our respect for one another infuses every aspect of our work.”

The University of California expressed concern over the amendments earlier this year as well, claiming that they “undermine the very procedures designed to ensure fairness and justice.”

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