Many colleges and universities have recognized that the quality of their sexual assault and intimate partner violence (“IPV”) investigations can be enhanced if they take into account the potential neurobiological effects of trauma. Institutions have sought and received training for their investigators and adjudicators on these issues, consistent with promising practices, general training requirements imposed by the 2013 Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act Amendments to the Clery Act, and certain state laws. Recent court decisions, a 2017 OCR Q&A document regarding Title IX, proposed regulations posted in November, 2018, and media commentary have all emphasized, however, that the content of training will be analyzed closely, and that training for investigators and adjudicators, including trauma-informed training, should be presented in a manner that is fully balanced, does not rely on sex stereotypes, and promotes fairness and equity for both complainants and respondents.
A white paper on these topics, written by Dinse Education Practice Group Chair Jeff Nolan for the University of Vermont’s 2018 Legal Issues in Higher Education Conference and updated in December, 2018 to reflect recent developments, is available here. This white paper summarizes the state of the law and some of the public and scholarly discourse on these issues, and offers suggestions for college and university administrators and counsel who are designing and/or selecting investigation training programs.