MCC Daily Tribune

President's Wednesday Message

Last week, US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released updated guidance to colleges on their requirements under Title IX. The department has withdrawn the April 4, 2011 "Dear Colleague" letter and the April 29, 2014 Q&A document that sought to provide further clarification to the 2011 document. In so doing, Secretary DeVos released her own "Dear Colleague" letter and Q&A document. In withdrawing the 2011/2014 documents, the Department has gone back to previous interpretive documents (2006 and earlier) and indicated that it intends to engage in negotiated rulemaking with public comment before advancing any further policy or guidance.

In practical terms, the most impactful result of Friday's "Dear Colleague" letter from Secretary DeVos is that it moves colleges and universities back to individual interpretations of Title IX requirements, which was the practice prior to April 2011.

However, since April 2011, some states, including New York, have passed significant legislation on the responsibilities and requirements of colleges and universities in responding to campus sexual assault. In our state, NYS Education Law 129B--colloquially known as Enough is Enough--applies to public and private colleges. MCC is in compliance with 129B. Our College has also established an office dedicated to education, prevention, services, and response--the Assistant to the President for Title IX and Inclusion; has established partnerships with community-based agencies such as RESTORE Sexual Assault Services and Legal Aid Society of Rochester; and has signed Memoranda of Understanding with law enforcement and medical providers. MCC remains committed to this work.

As debate and discussion about Title IX are likely again to take center stage in higher education, it is important to return to the law itself, which is direct and to the point:

"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

MCC's vision, mission, and values speak to access, equity, opportunity, excellence, inclusiveness, integrity, and empowerment. We understand that to transform the lives of our students, we must assure they can participate in their education, free from discrimination, and--further--that we have a responsibility to support them in this right. It is what we do. It is who we are.

Should you have any questions about Title IX at MCC, please reach out to Kristin Lowe, who leads our response. Please also share your thoughts on the blog.

Kress, Anne
Office of the President