Issues related to Title IX and campus sexual assault remain front-and-center on America’s colleges and universities, particularly as freshman-orientation season begins on many campuses. Still to be determined are promised changes by the Department of Education to Obama Administration guidance on campus sexual assault—a revised set of draft regulations, with a formal notice for public comment, is expected in September. While there has been some state activity in this area, many legislatures are waiting to see the new federal regulations coming from the department before they act. As policymakers and higher education leaders continue to wait, AGB suggests that boards take a moment to review their own engagement on this important topic.
AGB recommends that governing boards oversee issues surrounding campus sexual assault as they would any element of institutional/enterprise risk. To be clear, boards should not micromanage their institutions and administrators—but they should be aware of campus reports, policies, and procedures so they can thoroughly understand the context of their institution and lead effectively.
To assist boards in their work on this topic, AGB released its Advisory Statement on Sexual Misconduct. Boards should take the summer as an opportunity to review their institution’s sexual assault policies and consider how new Education Department regulations might affect those strategies. Reflect on some of these questions in anticipation of the next board or committee discussion:
- Has the full board discussed legal developments and national trends regarding Title IX and sexual misconduct?
- Has the board discussed sexual misconduct and related issues (as they manifest themselves on campus and in the broader higher education community) with the institution’s administrative leadership?
- Does the board know which administrators are primarily responsible for Title IX compliance and under what circumstances it is appropriate for the board (or appropriate board committee) to meet with those administrators?