What follows are regulatory and policy updates, as well as instructive legal case updates that we hope will provide a useful education for the common good. 

NEW POLICIES ANNOUNCEMENT FOR OCTOBER 2020

Dickinson College has recently approved some new institutional policies and substantively changed others. They are briefly described below and can be read in greater detail by either visiting the Office of General Counsel webpage and clicking the Updates tab on the left, or by going to the policy manual by signing onto the Gateway, clicking on the Employee tab on the left and then clicking on the Campus Policy Manual link on the right.

Drug and Alcohol Policy – This is not a new policy, but this communication serves as a regular reminder to review and be mindful of our campus stance on drug and alcohol usage, as well as the institutional and legal implications for misuse.  

Hazing Policy – This policy has been updated to clarify the sanctions for individuals and organizations involved in particularly high-level or pervasive hazing activities. Any student or organization found responsible for such a violation may face suspension or expulsion from the College. Hazing is a violation of Pennsylvania law and a criminal offense in the Commonwealth.  This policy is part of Dickinson College’s commitment to preserving the individual dignity and well-being of each and every member of the campus community.

Recording of Meetings Policy - This is a new policy.  The purpose of this policy is to set forth expectations regarding the recording of classes, meetings, telephone calls, discussions or other conversations at the College, offsite at College organized events, or via telephone or video conference (such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams) between members of our community. The intent of this policy is to strike a balance between the legitimate uses of audio and video recordings, and concerns including compliance with the law, privacy, and protection of intellectual property. This policy prohibits the secret recording of college meetings and outlines the circumstances under which meetings can properly be recorded.

Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy – This policy has been updated to comply with new Title IX regulations issued by the Department of Education. As part of the new regulations, the College was required to adopt a process which affords an opportunity for live hearings with cross-examination. Additionally, the new regulations limit the ability of the College to remove a student from campus, unless there is a real threat to safety. This comprehensive policy contains information regarding the procedures for information shared with the Title IX and Sexual Respect Office involving allegations of sexual discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, fondling, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation. As part of the changes resulting from the new regulations, these allegations can also be handled through an informal resolution process which could eliminate the need for a live hearing in certain circumstances.

All policies listed above can all be found in their entirety by going to the Campus Policy Manual at: https://www.dickinson.edu/homepage/1146/campus_policies_manual or by going to the Legal and Policy Updates section of the Office of General Counsel webpages.

If you have any questions please contact our office at legal@dickinson.edu 

Legislative and Regulatory Updates

Religious Liberty and Free Inquiry Final Rule

The Department of Education has issued a new final rule regarding freedom of speech. In relevant part, the rule requires private colleges to comply with their own policies regarding freedom of speech and academic freedom as a condition of receiving grant funds. The Department will consider any non-default judgment by a state or federal court based upon non-compliance with the institution’s free speech policy as evidence of non-compliance with this grant requirement. Under the new rule, institutions that fail to follow their own free speech and academic freedom policies, risk losing millions of dollars in grant funding.

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/freeinquiryfinalruleunofficialversion09092020.pdf

 

NEW POLICIES ANNOUNCEMENT FOR JULY 2020

Dickinson College has recently approved some new institutional policies and substantively changed others. They are briefly described below and can be read in greater detail by either visiting the Office of General Counsel webpage and clicking the Updates tab on the left, or by going to the policy manual by signing onto the Gateway, clicking on the Employee tab on the left and then clicking on the Campus Policy Manual link on the right.

Animals on Campus – This policy has been broadened to ensure its applicability to the entire campus community as well as visitors..  The purpose of this policy is to establish minimum procedural requirements for service animals and emotional support animals on campus, in order to stay in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and the Fair Housing Act. A violation of this policy may result in the animal being removed and/or banned from campus.

Business Ethics and Conduct - Dickinson College has implemented various policies and procedures to establish a foundation for acceptable standards of employee behavior in conducting business on behalf of the college.  This document is intended to emphasize the importance of observing these standards and serves as a point of reference for policies and procedures in place at the college. 

Drones/Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) – This policy has been updated and explains the purpose, definition and process for using Drones on campus.  This policy applies to all faculty, staff, and students for commercial or recreational use.  Any person who wishes to fly a drone anywhere on Dickinson grounds/campus must first contact the director of enterprise risk management to submit the appropriate documentation in order to receive advanced permission. 

Freedom of Expression – This Statement/Policy expresses how Dickinson seeks to cultivate inquiry into the human experience by virtue of its commitment to open expression and critical thought.  Dickinson is committed to advancing the interests of its campus community members relative to academic freedom, freedom of speech and expression, and the right to peaceably assemble.

Non-Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation – This policy has had significant changes in order to make sure it is relevant to the entire campus community, and that is clearly establishes Dickinson’s anti-discrimination stance.  The policy ensures that Dickinson has processes in place to effectively deal with discrimination, discriminatory harassment and retaliatory conduct within its employment, enrollment, student engagement and curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular programming efforts.  

Records Management and Retention PolicyThis policy had merged in other departmental records retention policies so that we have only one campus-wide records retention policy. 

All policies listed above can all be found in their entirety by going to the Campus Policy Manual at: https://www.dickinson.edu/homepage/1146/campus_policies_manual or by going to the Legal and Policy Updates section of the Office of General Counsel webpages.

If you have any questions please contact our office at legal@dickinson.edu 

TITLE IX UPDATES

The Department of Education (DOE) has recently enacted Title IX regulation that brings significant new institutional legal requirements. Just a few of these new requirements are:

  • Real-time hearings with the ability to conduct cross examinations
  • Limitation on the ability to remove a party from campus unless there is a real threat to safety
  • The ability to engage in informal resolution efforts to resolve cases short of a hearing
  • Detailed mandates on what must occur during investigation and decision-making processes

Clearly articulated definition of what constitutes prohibited sexual misconduct and harassment

As soon as Dickinson’s Sexual Harassment and Misconduct policy is updated, we will provide it to campus and follow-up with some live or virtual open forums to discuss the regulation, policy changes and implication on our processes going forward.

As it relates to the Title IX compliance, one bit of good news is that we have expedited the hiring of a full-time investigator. This will ensure that Title IX investigations are standardized, professionalized and completed as thoroughly as possible. Having an employee with the number one priority of investigating these cases will allow us to accomplish this goal. To this extent, we are pleased to welcome Jared Boyer to Dickinson College!

Jared Boyer comes to Dickinson following six years working in progressively responsible roles investigating cases for the Office of Inspector General for the Chicago Board of Education. While there, he investigated highly sensitive cases involving sexual assault, child molestation, and corruption and fraud at the highest levels. He has a J.D. as well as a B.A. in political science from Valparaiso University. Jared started with us on June 22 and is already hard at work helping us formulate our investigative procedures and Title IX training protocol. Please join me in welcoming him to our campus.

Please stay tuned; more updates will be forthcoming as we prepare for Aug. 14 and our new normal thereafter. Until then, if you would like some more information about the regulation and forthcoming changes, the webinar below from one of our law firm partners is free and gives an excellent overview:

https://www.mcneeslaw.com/new-title-ix-regulations-webinar/