The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Public Affairs Advisory Committee submitted comments on Jan. 26 regarding the Department of Education’s proposed changes to Title IX.
The PAAC’s response addressed the Department of Education’s proposal to narrow the definition of sexual harassment, raise the bar for admissible evidence, and require that institutions only investigate incidents that occur on campus or during campus-sponsored events.
Such changes would significantly reduce the number of reported violations. According to the National Academy of Sciences’ report on sexual harassment in academia, sexual harassment is already underreported.
The PAAC also commented on the agency’s proposal to introduce live adversarial cross-examination via representatives such as lawyers. This addition would discourage reporting sexual harassment and cause reprisals and intimidation during the investigation process.
The ASBMB strongly encourages that the Department of Education reconsider its proposed changes to Title IX, which, if implemented, will only weaken the law.
The ASBMB remains committed to addressing sexual harassment in science. Read our comments regarding the policy changes at the National Science Foundation to reduce harassment and our comments urging the National Institutes of Health to play a bigger role.