For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 1 - 16

The Evolving High Stakes
World of Defending
Students in College Title IX
Patricia M. Hamill and Lorie K. Dakessian


s attorneys who have represented more
than 100 students nationwide in college
Title IX proceedings or in litigation against
colleges in the wake of such proceedings, we often
are asked whether our job is getting easier under
the new Administration. The answer is: yes, and
no. Are there potentially more tools available
today than there were in 2012 to defend an
accused student? Yes, to some extent, given the
impact of court decisions on the conduct of internal
disciplinary procedures; and, a resounding yes if the
Department of Education's recently proposed Title
IX regulations go into effect as drafted. Do some
aspects of these representations remain unchanged
even with advances achieved through the evolving
case law, a current Administration that has focused
more on the due process rights of accused students,
and the recently proposed regulations? Yes, and
regardless of any of these recent changes, attorneys
who represent students in these circumstances
still must navigate a unique and evolving world
that combines elements of internal administrative


For The Defense


Vol. 4, Issue 1

proceedings and possible civil proceedings,
against a backdrop of potential criminal exposure
and a climate on campuses that favors the
credibility of alleged victims over the accounts of
accused students.1
To set the stage: More than seven years
ago, in April 2011, the Office for Civil Rights
("OCR") of the Department of Education ("DOE")
issued a "Dear Colleague Letter" addressing
student-on-student sexual harassment and sexual
violence ("2011 DCL"). With the 2011 DCL, the
DOE instructed colleges and universities on how
to respond to and adjudicate claims of sexual
misconduct in compliance with Title IX.2 In 2014,
the DOE provided further guidance to "clarify
the legal requirements and guidance articulated
in" its 2011 DCL and previous guidance (the
"2014 Q&A").3 To avoid an enforcement action
by the OCR and a possible loss in federal funding,
colleges and universities revamped their sexual
misconduct disciplinary processes to conform to
the 2011 DCL and 2014 Q&A. These efforts, in


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of For the Defense - Vol. 4, Issue 1