Simpson could see changes to Title IX


Photo courtesy of Marisa DeForest

by Zoe Seiler, News Editor

College campuses could see changes to Title IX after Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed changes in November. The proposal could change the process colleges use to investigate cases of sexual misconduct.

Simpson College senior class president Marisa DeForest sent an email to students on Jan. 17 explaining the proposed changes.

“So, with these changes there were a lot of subtle ones just redefining what sexual assault is within Title IX or sexual harassment, which is kind of broad,” DeForest said.

One proposed regulation would require a live hearing with cross-examination. This would allow the complainant and the accused to be subject to a live questioning from the other party’s adviser.

Title IX Coordinator Elyse Morris said hearings are a part of the current process but those involved are separated and can see each other through technology, like Skype, and they cannot pose questions directly to each other.

“The way we have been doing it is that they can pose questions. They can give me a list of questions ahead of time to pass along to the hearing board, so that they can ask those questions, but that gives me a chance to review the questions ahead of time and take anything out that seems like it is not relevant or shouldn’t be asked,” Morris said.

The new proposal could require the chairperson of the hearing board to act as a judge and stop advisers in the moment. Morris also said it is likely that advisers could be lawyers, so the process becomes similar to a trial.

“From a survivor perspective, that could potentially be extremely retraumatizing to have to sit through that kind of live questioning,” Morris said.

The cross-examination would require each person, as well as witnesses, to be present at the hearing, and “if a party chooses not to participate in cross-examination, their statements may not be used in the ultimate decision-making process,” the email said.

DeForest also raised concerns of situations that happen off campus, because under the potential new regulations, Simpson would have to dismiss a complaint if an incident occurred off campus.

“They cannot investigate any incidents that happen off campus, so that obviously presents issues with students who live off campus or even traveling sports teams,” DeForest said.

She also raised concerns of this regulation and how it could affect students studying abroad because Title IX applies only to incidents that happen within the U.S.

Morris and DeForest, along with Vice President for Student Development & Planning Heidi Levine and Associate Dean for Counseling, Health & Leadership Ellie Olson, submitted comments with these concerns to the Department of Education on behalf of the Student Government Association. A few students also submitted comments on their own.

“We laid out the points that we disagreed with, we stated why we disagreed with them, and then we even on some of them proposed changes that they could’ve made to them,” DeForest said.

DeForest worked with Emily Parker and Alli Parker on SGA to write the comment. They had 60 days to receive student feedback and submit the comment by Feb. 4.

“There’s no guarantee that they’ll amount to anything, but it’s a shot. It’s something we can try,” DeForest said.

DeForest also said SGA submitted a comment to make sure student voices were heard and the Department of Education can “hear the reality of a student’s experience and a student’s perspective when it comes to true interaction with Title IX.”

Students can email DeForest at [email protected] or Morris at [email protected] with questions. More information is also provided at