Important Title IX Updates

Dear Saint Mary’s College Community, 

I write to update you on several important matters related to Title IX and the College’s commitment to maintaining an environment free from discrimination and harassment. The College will update Title IX protocols and processes to incorporate additional legal elements required under California’s Senate Bill 493 and Education Code section 66281.8, which became effective January 1, 2022.  

Senate Bill 493 applies only to complaints initiated by students.  

Summarized below are the key revisions, the impetus for the changes, and other information of note.

Senate Bill 493 Changes

This legislation was authored by former Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson of Santa Barbara and sponsored by Equal Rights Advocates and the Women’s Foundation of California. Our current Sexual Misconduct Policy and implementing frameworks together already codified most of SB 493’s requirements. Revisions are therefore limited and include:

  • The addition of “sexual exploitation” as a form of prohibited conduct;
  • Limitations on SMC’s use of no-contact orders to restrict a complainant’s contact with a respondent (but not a respondent’s contact with a complainant);
  • A requirement that confidential resources inform a person who discloses prohibited conduct of their right to report to Title IX, and how to do so;
  • The addition of pastoral counselors as a specified confidential resource, and— in the same section—a broader reference to “CARE” rather than “CARE Advocates.” As in the past, these employees are confidential resources only when they are acting in their confidential capacity;
  • A statement that resolution processes under the Sexual Misconduct Policy are not adversarial;
  • A statement that Title IX Officers will periodically update parties on the status of investigations;
  • The addition of certain notice requirements when a Title IX Officer opens an investigation despite a complainant’s wishes. Note that this happens relatively rarely, when a potential risk to the campus community compels it;
  • A statement that the Title IX Officer will consider potential systemic remedies after investigations are concluded; and
  • A requirement that locations notify volunteers and contractors who regularly interact with students of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
  • Revision to the handbook that notes any evidence available to but not disclosed by a party during an investigation might not be considered at any subsequent hearing. 

In the very limited circumstances when an investigator or hearing officer determines a party’s sexual history is relevant, they will explain their determination to the parties in writing;

  • Parties may object, in writing only, to questions asked at a hearing, and submit their objections at the conclusion of the hearing for inclusion in the record; and
  • Investigators and hearing officers are required to exclude questions a party proposes they ask of another party or witness (or, in DOE Grievance Process hearings, asks through their advisor) if the questions are irrelevant, repetitive, or are harassing or violate the Sexual Misconduct rules of conduct (in a DOE Grievance Process); previously, this was discretionary in some instances.

The Sexual Misconduct Policy and Reporting Process are essential to our ongoing efforts to combat sexual harassment. The Title IX Coordinator and College leadership that participates in our Sexual Misconduct policy's stewardship have exercised great attention and care to ensure implementation is consistent with the law. 

The student, faculty, and staff handbooks will be updated to reflect the current legislation and will be shared in the coming weeks. Please visit the College’s Title IX website if you have any questions. 

In community, 

Anthony Garrison-Engbrecht

Vice President of Student Life & Title IX Coordinator