What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment and sexual assault, in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. On May 6, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education released sweeping regulations directing schools to implement new procedures to address Title IX-based reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Title IX at Penn State
Penn State is committed to fostering an environment free from sexual or gender-based harassment or misconduct. The Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response ensures compliance with Title IX.
Many of the new Department of Education provisions have already been in place at Penn State for several years, so certain components within our existing procedures have not changed.
The new regulations have narrower parameters for what is considered Prohibited Conduct under Title IX. Any alleged sexual misconduct by students and employees that no longer meets the new Title IX parameters will be adjudicated within the University under a separate non-Title IX process.
A second major change is that the new regulations now mandate that regardless of whether a case involves students or employees, all Title IX cases must be adjudicated using the same process.
Questions and Contacts
Members of the University community who believe that Title IX has been violated should discuss their concerns with and/or file a complaint with the Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Penn State College of Medicine, or the University’s Title IX Coordinator. See Title IX contacts below.
Jump to topic
More about Title IX
Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response
Kim Lantz Yoder, JD
Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Penn State College of Medicine
Faculty Equity Officer
500 University Dr.
Hershey, PA 17033-0850
Office: Room C1747N
Phone: 717-531-0003, ext. 283353
24-Hour Penn State Hotline
This number is available for people from all Penn State campuses to receive information and support.
See Penn State’s Title IX Report Response page for a comprehensive overview of how the University responds when it becomes aware of an incident that may violate Title IX.
Major provisions of the new Title IX regulations implemented Aug. 14, 2020, include:
- The University can neither compel a party to participate in the Title IX procedure nor retaliate against a party for not participating.
- The University cannot violate a party’s First Amendment rights.
- There are prescribed definitions of sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic and dating violence and stalking that are prohibited under Title IX.
- Procedural due process requirements apply equally to students, faculty and staff.
- Supportive measures are available to complainants (those who are reported to have experienced harm) and respondents (those who are accused of engaging in the harmful conduct) equally, regardless of whether a matter is investigated.
- There is a presumption of innocence for the respondent.
- A signed formal complaint from the complainant or the Title IX Coordinator is a requirement prior to any formal investigation.
- An investigation provides the opportunity for the parties (the complainant and respondent) to make a statement, provide witnesses and present evidence to the investigator.
- A complaint may be dismissed:
- at the written request of a complainant;
- because the reported conduct does not fall within the defined conduct covered by Title IX;
- because the reported conduct happened outside of the United States;
- because the reported conduct did not occur within a University education program or activity; or
- because the complainant is not participating or seeking to participate in a University program or activity at the time of the filing of the complaint.
- Parties will have the right to appeal a dismissal.
- The University must state whether it has chosen to use the preponderance of the evidence standard, or the clear and convincing evidence standard, for all formal complaints of sexual harassment (including cases in which employees are respondents). Penn State has chosen the preponderance of the evidence standard, which means that the alleged conduct more likely than not occurred.
- Parties may be accompanied by an adviser of their choice to any grievance-related meeting or proceeding.
- The complainant and respondent may enter into a voluntary informal resolution agreement to resolve the matter. However, in matters in which a student files a formal complaint against faculty or staff, the University may not resolve the matter by informal agreement.
- At a hearing by a trained decision-maker(s), the parties have the following rights:
- to be provided with an adviser if they do not have one;
- to have their adviser cross-examine the other party and witnesses; and
- are guaranteed that statements from a party or witness who fails to appear or refuses to submit to cross-examination cannot be considered by the decision-maker.
- Following a hearing, the parties have the following rights:
- to to receive a written notice of outcome including the basis for the decision;
- if there is a finding of responsibility, to receive written sanctions and remedies;
- to appeal the decision of the decision-maker(s).
- There are designated time frames for the review of evidence, including evidence not relied upon by the investigator, and designated time frames for review of investigative reports.
Changes to Penn State Policies and Procedures (to comply with the new regulations)
In response to these sweeping changes, Penn State has taken several steps to comply with the new Title IX regulations. University Policy AD-85 is now the University’s standalone Title IX Policy, which reflects the new regulatory requirements and Penn State’s efforts to ensure a fair process for all parties involved.
In addition, other University policies and procedures have been revised to address conduct that falls outside of the Title IX jurisdictional requirements (non-Title IX sexual misconduct). See the revised University Policy AD-91 (Discrimination and Harassment and Related Inappropriate Conduct) for further information.
Key provisions of the University’s Title IX Policy
- Provisions for an adviser of the party’s choice. Parties are provided these options:
- To have an adviser of their choice present at all grievance-related meetings and proceedings;
- At the hearing stage (only if the other party has an attorney as their adviser), to have an attorney, trained in Penn State’s procedure, appointed at no cost to the parties, to review evidence and prepare for the hearing, and to conduct cross-examination(s).
- Informal resolution of complaints. Parties may resolve a matter informally by agreement of the complainant, respondent and the Title IX coordinator. Informal resolutions cannot be applied in matters in which a student is making a sexual harassment complaint against a faculty or staff member.
- Hearings before a trained hearing panel. The hearing panel will be a mixed-gender, three-person panel who are members of the University’s Title IX Hearing Board. The Hearing Panel will:
- make evidentiary determinations (e.g., relevance); and
- make findings of responsibilities.
- Provisions for the application of sanctions and notification to both parties. Following a finding of responsibility, sanctions and remedies will be issued by:
- For student respondents, the Senior Director, Office of Student Conduct.
- For employee respondents, their immediate supervisor in consultation with relevant University officials.
- For an employee subject to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, the matter shall be referred to Labor and Employee Relations to ensure that any discipline and/or sanctions are imposed in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement applicable to the employee.
- For a tenured or tenure-eligible faculty member, and the sanction imposed is recommended dismissal of the faculty member’s employment and/or revocation of tenure, the matter shall be referred to the appropriate academic administrator to initiate dismissal pursuant to University Policy AC-70 (Dismissal Procedure for Tenured and Tenure-Eligible Faculty Members).
- Designation of appeal decision-makers for student, faculty and staff matters. The decision-maker for appeals is:
- For undergraduate students, the Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Education or their designee.
- For graduate students, the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Dean of the Graduate School or their designee.
- For staff, the Vice President for Human Resources or their designee.
- For faculty and postdoctoral scholars/fellows, the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs or their designee.
- Application of the Preponderance of Evidence standard to all Title IX matters. All findings of responsibility for Title IX Prohibited Conduct are rendered using a preponderance of the evidence standard.
Retaliation, as defined in University Policy AD67, is also prohibited by this policy, as well as by state and federal law. Retaliation is prohibited against anyone who files a complaint and/or participates in an investigation involving alleged Title IX violations. Retaliation constitutes a separate violation and may result in discipline or sanctions independent of the outcome of a complaint. Please report any retaliation to the College of Medicine Deputy Title IX Coordinator, the Office of Student Conduct or the University’s Title IX Coordinator.
To file a complaint outside of the University, contact:
Office for Civil Rights, Philadelphia Office
100 Penn Square East, Suite 515
Philadelphia, PA 19107-3323