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 APRIL 2021


Dickinson College has recently changed multiple institutional policies. 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.

Academic Policies and Procedures – This policy was updated to include examples of mitigating circumstances which are considered in an appeal of a required withdrawal for academic reasons, and to clarify that exit interviews are required for students who voluntarily withdraw.

Comprehensive Waste Management Plan – This policy, which assures that all waste generated on campus is properly managed with the least impact on environmental resources, had a comprehensive update to reflect changes in college procedures and applicable rules.

Hazardous Communication Program - This document serves as the written guide for Dickinson College compliance to the Hazard Communication Program requirements and other federal regulations. All employees at Dickinson College engaged in the use of hazardous chemicals outside laboratories and art studios are required to comply with this document. This updated policy has two substantive changes:

  1. It has been updated to reflect the College’s move to an online inventory of hazardous chemicals.
     
  2. It has been updated to clarify training requirements for the introduction of new chemicals to the workplace.

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

On March 8, 2021, President Biden signed an executive order titled “Executive Order on Guaranteeing an Educational Environment Free from Discrimination on the Basis of Sex, Including Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity.” This order directs federal officials to review regulations and other agency documents to identify any areas of inconsistency between those agency documents and the Biden Administration’s stated policy “that all students should be guaranteed an educational environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, including discrimination in the form of sexual harassment, which encompasses sexual violence, and including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.”

There is speculation that this order will result in changes to Department of Education rules and guidance which dictate the procedures for Title IX grievance complaints. While this is a possible outcome, this order directs a review and does not change existing rules and guidance. The Office of General Counsel continues to monitor this situation.

NEW POLICIES ANNOUNCEMENT FOR JANUARY 2021


Dickinson College has recently changed multiple institutional policies. 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.

Recording of Meetings Policy - This was a new policy in the October 2020 Announcements, but it appears again in our announcements as a reminder because meetings continue to occur in a virtual or remote format. This policy sets 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 also appeared in our last announcements in October 2020 and is being repeated as we transition back to campus and because of its importance to our community.  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.

Volunteer Policy – This policy was updated in October 2020. The Volunteer Policy outlines the roles and responsibilities which can be assigned to volunteers and defines their relationship to the College. The policy applies to all individuals providing volunteer services on behalf of the college without receiving compensation or academic credit.

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

Recent Changes to International Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Visa Programs

Remote Learning and Student Visas: In March, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued guidance that waived restrictions designed to prevent international students holding non-immigrant visas from taking a predominantly remote or online course-load. Over the summer, DHS issued new guidance stating that this flexibility would only be available to schools operating on an in-person or hybrid learning model. DHS ultimately withdrew this guidance, leaving in place the March guidance, after several academic institutions filed suit in federal court. This month, DHS has stated that the March guidance will remain in place for the Spring semester. Under this guidance, continuing international students who were enrolled at a U.S. institution as of March 9 can re-enter the U.S. even if their institution is engaged in remote-only learning, but new students enrolled after March 9 will not be permitted to enter the U.S. to take a remote-only course of study this spring. New students will be able to enter the U.S. to take hybrid programs consisting of a mix of in-person and online coursework this spring.

Expiration of Student Visas: In late September, DHS released a proposed rule for public comment, which would limit the length of stay available to students on a non-immigrant or exchange visa. Under the proposed rule, students would be subject to a maximum stay of four years. Students from a list of countries that DHS has identified as having an elevated rate of violations would receive a visa that was valid for only two years, though they could apply for one renewal for an additional two years. While the public comment period has closed, no final rule has been published. We will continue to monitor this situation.

H1-B Visas: DHS and the Department of Labor (DOL) released twin “interim final” rules which would have restricted the specialty occupations which qualified for the H1-B skilled worker visa and, in many cases, required much higher salaries. These “interim final” rules were never released as proposed rules, and the public was never given an opportunity to comment before their implementation. Therefore, a federal judge has thrown out the new rules as violative of the Administrative Procedures Act.