Title IX Update
Dear Members of the Harvard Community,
On May 6, the US Department of Education (DOE) issued new Title IX regulations. Colleges and universities across the country were required to review existing policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment, including sexual assault, and to make necessary changes in advance of today’s implementation deadline.
Harvard remains committed to fostering a safe environment in which all of us can do our best work. Despite changes we have been compelled to make by the DOE, the University will go beyond the minimum requirements stipulated by the new regulations and continue to address the same level of conduct that was addressed under our prior policy. To do so, we have enacted two interim policies and procedures. The Harvard University Interim Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy was developed in response to the changes issued by the DOE in May, and conduct that falls outside of the jurisdiction of that policy is addressed in the Harvard University Interim Other Sexual Misconduct Policy.
I am grateful to everyone who worked with great care and patience to develop our new policies. Over the course of just seventy business days—while the pandemic kept almost all of us away from campus—the University Title IX Office and the Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR) completed a herculean task. Under intense time pressure, they consulted with advocacy groups and community members from across the University who generously offered their perspectives and provided key input on decisions related to the new regulations. The result is a pair of interim policies that will be revisited throughout the coming year to ensure that they are as effective and inclusive as possible while remaining compliant with federal regulations. If you have thoughts or ideas, I encourage you to contact the Title IX Office to share them directly.
Rest assured that Harvard also remains committed to efforts to enhance and expand resources for individuals impacted by sexual and gender-based harassment. These include our robust system of more than 50 Title IX Resource Coordinators located within each of our schools and units, as well as those within the University Title IX Office, the ODR, and Harvard University Health Services. We will continue to engage in efforts to better understand the problem of sexual and gender-based harassment in higher education, and to collaborate on new solutions, through our work in research-based initiatives such as the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine – Action Collaborative, of which Harvard is a founding member.
The events of this year have been a powerful reminder of the importance of community and of the many ways in which our lives are intertwined. Each of us shares responsibility for confronting and stopping sexual harassment, sexual assault, and discrimination—for the sake of our friends and colleagues, for the sake of our community, and for the sake of our society. Every step we take to affirm those commitments is a step in the right direction.
All the best,