In May 2020, the U.S. Department of Education issued new regulations mandating how universities must investigate and adjudicate sexual misconduct cases under Title IX, the federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities. Consequently, like all universities that receive federal funding, the university revised its policies related to sexual misconduct. The new policies became effective Aug. 14, 2020.
The university remains committed to fostering a climate free from sexual discrimination, harassment and violence, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking through clear and effective policies, a coordinated education and prevention program, and prompt and equitable procedures for resolution of reports of conduct prohibited under this policy. As a Lasallian Catholic institution of higher education, the university believes in the inherent dignity and worth of every student and employee. As such, the university strives to create an environment where the dignity of each person is respected and honored. Sexual discrimination, harassment, and violence violate the dignity of the person and are inconsistent with the mission and values of the university.
New features of the Sexual Harassment/Sexual Assault Policy include:
- There will be live hearings with the option of different locations and the use of remote technology.
- There will be live cross examination (conducted by parties’ advisers) for conduct classified as Title IX Sexual Harassment.
- Parties who do not wish to participate in the university’s formal disciplinary process may choose to participate in a voluntary informal resolution process.
Many features of the university’s previous policy related to sexual misconduct will remain the same, including:
- University policy continues to apply to off-campus sexual misconduct between two members of the university community or during university-sponsored programs or activities (including study abroad or conferences).
- The preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) standard continues to apply.
- Individuals may still obtain supportive measures (such as No Contact Orders, academic support, or housing changes) with or without participating in a formal investigation/adjudication.
As a result of the new processes required to adjudicate Title IX sexual harassment cases, the general counsel and Title IX coordinator roles must be separated. The following individuals will be assuming responsibility for Title IX matters on an interim basis effective Jan. 25, 2021:
- Tracy Lehnertz, interim Title IX coordinator
- Scott Walker, interim deputy Title IX coordinator
The responsibilities for Title IX matters will transition to the vice president for Inclusion and Human Dignity once that individual is hired.
Questions about Title IX matters may be directed to TitleIX@smumn.edu. Sexual harassment, sexual assault, and sexual misconduct reports may be made using this form or by contacting either the interim Titile IX coordinator at 507-457-1694 or the interim deputy Title IX coordinator at 507-457-8700.