Title IX hearings can involve serious allegations, including discrimination, sexual harassment or assault. A recent study found that 25% of Title IX cases are now being appealed, which often leads to lengthy and costly legal battles.
Politicians and the public are arguing over whether Title IX hearings fail to protect victims or are too quick to consider the accused guilty. The strong criticisms coming from both sides mean that universities are being caught in the crossfire of a culture war. Now, to avoid added legal costs, reputational damage and other consequences, university leaders must do everything they can to best prepare for Title IX investigations and hearings.
University leaders must do their due diligence in documenting their efforts, procedures and evidence. Keeping accurate, professional statements and transcripts of testimonies is critical. Here is some background about the current controversy surrounding Title IX hearings and ways that careful record-keeping can help protect your university.
Is Title IX ineffective for victims, or unfair to the accused?
Title IX recently turned 50, prompting reflections on its impact and effectiveness. Also, the #MeToo movement exposed disturbing cases of sexual abuse and misconduct in all areas of society, including academia. When reviewing sexual misconduct allegations over seven years, researchers saw tens of thousands of claims, but only 594 resulted in expulsions. Considering that one in five women report being sexually assaulted in college, the small number of expulsions suggests Title IX likely is not effectively protecting students.
Others argue that universities have gone too far in the opposite direction, diminishing or eliminating the rights of those accused. A proposed bill even seeks more protection for those accused in Title IX hearings. It’s true that lower standards of proof make it easier for universities to find the accused at fault than it would be to convict them of a crime. Still, Title XI requires some due process requirements.
Today’s universities must provide:
- Fairness by following the same regulatory procedures as similar cases
- Notice regarding the allegations
- A description of the evidence against the person
- The right to present evidence in front of an impartial panel
If a person can show that the university failed to provide due process, they can take the institution to court. The consequences for a person who faces allegations in a Title IX hearing include expulsion, suspension or termination of their employment. The stakes are, therefore, high for everyone involved. Educational institutions are likely to face scrutiny, no matter which side prevails in a Title IX hearing. Their leaders must do more to prepare.
Protecting universities from allegations of unfair hearings
University leaders must conduct careful record-keeping to protect themselves. Whether it’s an informal witness interview or a live hearing and examination in front of a panel, there should be an unbiased record of what the witness said. Unbiased means a transcript, not someone’s notes.
The legal system follows this same procedure. The parties in a lawsuit produce transcripts of their depositions, hearings and other important proceedings. Digital tools, including Artificial Intelligence, are a great choice for efficiently transcribing accurate, verbatim records.
Universities preparing for Title IX hearings should also be using transcription. Choosing a professional transcription solution that is trusted by the legal industry can help add legitimacy to your university’s practices. As a legal transcription provider and a key partner to universities globally, Verbit can help to provide records of these important proceedings and support universities in Title IX hearings as well.
Produce professional transcripts as a safety net
All university leaders should be looking to transcribe Title IX hearings for quality records. Professional, tech-forward solutions are your best bet. During investigations, a transcript that provides search functionality, such as Verbit’s, can help investigators quickly locate specific parts of a witness statement or testimony. Instead of relying on long audio or video recordings alone, professional transcripts can facilitate a much more efficient process.
Following hearings, transcripts serve as records that showcase that the university handled each situation with care. Universities that can’t produce professional records of their efforts will be at a disadvantage, especially with the current rise in appeals of Title IX cases to the courts.
Most universities are already providing transcription as a solution to help their students with disabilities or to assist with note-taking in regular courses. Expanding this effort to encompass other institutional needs should be a no-brainer. With proven partnerships in both the academic and legal sectors, Verbit can provide the support universities need when carrying out Title IX investigations and hearings. Most importantly, Verbit’s platform is highly secure, ensuring confidential information stays private, which is a risk when using the online or AI-based free tools available for consideration for transcription work.
Contact us to learn more about using our cost-efficient and secure transcription solutions to produce accurate records when you need them most.