This letter was released because the various OCR circuits were not always in agreement when issuing their resolution agreements. As such, there was much confusion and institutions were asking for further clarification.
It was clear that this letter took on a different tone from other guidance in the past, as the letter includes statistics on sexual violence such as, one in five women are victims of completed or attempted sexual assault while in college (U.S. Department of Education, 2011).
The letter once again defines harassment and hostile environment and focuses primarily on peer-to-peer harassment/assault.
It also states, again, that a single case of harassment is enough to create a hostile environment and needs to be dealt with appropriately.
The letter goes into more detail when explaining that a formal complaint is not necessary for a school to be required to conduct an investigation.
If the school has knowledge at all of harassment either in school or away from school, the institution is required to investigate to ensure a hostile environment does not exist and further harassment does not take place.
The school is also responsible to include law enforcement if they believe criminal conduct has taken place.
The complainants’ rights to confidentiality are also articulated.
Once again, the need for published prompt and equitable grievance procedures and a Title IX coordinator are included in the guidance.
The letter does go into further detail on prevention. It offers examples to aid in prevention, such as; orientation for new students, staff, and faculty.
It also suggests training students in residence halls, athletes, and coaches.
This guidance also goes into more detail on remedies to ease a hostile environment and prevent further harassment. Some of the suggestions include, providing an escort, keeping the victim and perpetrator separate, providing counseling and/or tutoring, and arranging for a withdrawal or retake without penalty for the victim.