New Massachusetts Sexual Misconduct Law Continues a Busy Year-Plus for Title IX Administrators in Higher Education

Biden Administration Revisions, New State Law and Continued Judicial Interpretation Mark Evolving Nature of Campus Sexual Assault Prevention Efforts for Public and Private Colleges and Universities in the Commonwealth

Photo by Alex Motoc on Unsplash
  • Within 45 days of the start of the Fall semester: newly matriculated students must receive training on the institution’s sexual misconduct policy and process (more on training below)
  • awareness of the institutional policies and processes
  • student satisfaction
  • access to services
  • overall campus safety
  • investigations,
  • findings, and
  • sanctions
  • for campus law enforcement — awareness and prevention of sexual misconduct; and,
  • for investigators — methods for interviewing victims; conduct that constitutes misconduct; the effects of alcohol and drugs on consent; the impacts of trauma, cultural differences and disability on victims, respondents and witnesses in an investigation; and, due process.
  • While many campuses already provide amnesty for students engaged in other conduct violations who become victims of or witnesses to sexual misconduct, the new state law now requires it.
  • Institutions may allow hearing officers to place limits on the use of character witnesses (Title IX regulations are silent on this issue), and adverse parties are prohibited from directly questioning one another in a hearing.
  • An institution must notify all parties of a final determination on a complaint within seven business days after reaching a decision; Title IX regulations have no such requirement.
  • the federal Department of Education to initiate formal rulemaking to further revise the Title IX regulations, by May 2022
  • the deadline to submit the first of annual reports under the new law to DHE, by August 2022
  • the deadline to complete the first campus climate surveys under the new law, by July 31, 2025

Boston, MA attorney and consultant specializing in labor and employment law, dispute resolution and government relations.