Message to the Bowdoin Community—Title IX Update (August 19, 2020)

To the Bowdoin community,

You may recall, I wrote this spring about the US Department of Education’s new federal Title IX regulations governing, among other things, how colleges and universities respond to cases of sexual harassment. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities.
Since the release of those revisions on May 6, 2020, we have been in the process of carefully reviewing the rules to make sure we have a full understanding of how they will affect our polices, processes, and procedures here at Bowdoin upon implementation.

I write today to share that we have incorporated the rules into a new Student and Employee Title IX Policy that is now in effect.

The changes pertain primarily to our Title IX adjudication processes and the specific steps that must be taken in the formal process for addressing complaints that fall under Title IX.

There are, however, many things that stay the same from past iterations of the policy and I want to include them here:
  • Our definition of effective consent is unchanged.
  • We will continue to utilize a preponderance of evidence standard in deciding student and employee responsibility.
  • Each student and employee will have the opportunity to have a Bowdoin-provided supporter to help them through the formal process.
  • There is both a formal and an alternative option available after making a complaint.
  • Each party has an opportunity for supportive measures to help them navigate life at the College after making or responding to a complaint or report.
  • We reserve the right to consider those things not captured by the federal definition of sexual harassment as a potential violation of the Social Code, and our respective staff and faculty conduct policies.
  • Both parties have the right to an appeal.
We have worked diligently to make sure that our implementation of these rules reflects the character and community of Bowdoin. To help ensure that, I have asked Benje Douglas, associate vice president of inclusion and diversity and Title IX coordinator, to convene a Title IX policy review group to deeply study the changes made and make suggestions as to how they can better align with existing Bowdoin polices and community standards. This work will be done by students, staff, and faculty, and I anticipate it will continue throughout the 2020–2021 academic year.
Benje will also begin offering open office hours for community conversation and feedback about the new rules starting in mid-September. I hope you will take advantage of those meetings to voice your thoughts about the changes. Finally, please email the Title IX office directly at with your questions or concerns.
I want to emphasize again that sexual and gender-based misconduct, sexual and gender-based discrimination, and sexual and gender-based harassment will not be tolerated at Bowdoin. I encourage you to review the many resources at the College that inform and assist members of our community in preventing sexual and gender-based violence, along with information on how to report incidents. While we will, of course, follow the law, we will always seek to do so in ways that reflect our values and that provide a process for dealing with these matters that is fair, rigorous, and transparent.
I encourage you to click through the links I’ve included in order to further examine these aspects of the process, and I hope you and yours are staying healthy and safe during these challenging times.
All the best and please stay safe,