In today’s college environment, accusations of Title IX infractions have become increasingly common. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. At the University of Michigan, the Equity, Civil Rights and Title IX Office, also known as U of M ECRT, is the department that facilitates the reporting of such infractions.
Title IX violation accusations can seriously affect a student’s academic and professional future. It is important for both college students and their parents to understand the need to consult with an attorney before meeting with university officials.
Understanding Title IX
Title IX became law in 1972 to ensure that educational institutions do not discriminate on the basis of sex. Over the years, different parties interpreted it to encompass various issues, including sexual harassment, sexual assault and gender-based discrimination.
When someone accuses a college student of a Title IX violation, the university has an obligation to investigate and potentially take disciplinary action.
The role of U of M ECRT services
University departments such as U of M’s ECRT Office exist to provide a point of contact for resources and support in the promotion of not only non-discriminatory educational spaces but also living and working conditions. In addition to filing a report of discrimination or misconduct on the ECRT Office’s website, students can find information about the university’s policies, including sexual and gender-based misconduct, disability and accessibility, and civil rights.
Reports can be anonymous, and in addition to the online form, the university has a compliance hotline that can take reports over the phone at any time. Once a report is filed, university procedures take over.
The role of an attorney
Meeting with university officials without legal representation can be a mistake. Attorneys with experience in Title IX cases can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the process. They can help students understand their rights, navigate the university’s procedures and ensure that all parties hear the students’ voices. An attorney can advise students on how to respond to accusations and help them prepare for meetings with university officials. Without a Title IX attorney, students may unknowingly incriminate themselves or make statements that the other side could use against them.
The procedures and protocols in a Title IX investigation can be complex and daunting. Attorneys are well-versed in these processes and can guide students through each step. They can also help students prepare for interviews, hearings and appeals.
An attorney can advocate for the student, ensuring the investigation is thorough and impartial. Attorneys also help to challenge any biases or procedural errors that may arise during the investigation.
Accusations of Title IX violations can have long-lasting consequences, including disciplinary actions that may affect a student’s academic record and future opportunities. Attorneys can help minimize these consequences and protect a student’s educational and professional future.
By seeking legal counsel after accusations of Title IX violations from the U of M ECRT Office or another institution, college students and their parents can better navigate the challenging path that lies ahead and safeguard their future prospects.
David Nacht is recognized nationally as a leading practitioner in this field of Title IX work and receives referrals from lawyers nationwide. At any given moment he represents well over a dozen Title IX clients at the University of Michigan and Michigan State. In court, Nacht’s important victories in Doe v NMU, Dow v Aquinas College, Carlock v Wayne State, and Smock v Michigan were precedent-setting victories for the accused.