The proposed changes to federal guidelines that would fortify due process protections for accused students and narrow the definition of sexual harassment would have little impact on the University's policies, an administrator said. 

Howard Kallem, Duke director of Title IX compliance, said that the proposed regulations will not reduce Duke's commitment or ability to address sexual misconduct, and that the University may push back against some aspects of the changes. 

Kallem described the new definition of sexual harassment as "more restrictive." 

According to Kallem, the new definition would force Duke to shift some cases currently covered under Title IX procedures to other student conduct processes. Although Duke would have to abide by the new definition, Kallam suggested that the University would continue to respond to all current cases through other processes if necessary. 

"The proposed regulations do allow universities to continue to address conduct that doesn't meet that definition, but they have to use different complaint procedures," Kallem said. 

Even though the proposed changes also would no longer allow Duke to discipline its students for sexual misconduct away from the University through Title IX, these cases would still be covered under other student conduct policies, Kallem said. 

The University already meets many of the points of importance noted in the new regulations, including a robust investigative process and supportive measures for all parties involved, Kallem said. He hopes that Duke will continue to meet its current commitment to addressing sexual misconduct despite proposed changes to Title IX regulations that narrow the regulations' scope. 

"There is nothing in them that will cause Duke to retreat from its commitment to preventing sexual misconduct and responding to complaints," Kallem said.

Title IX, governed by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs that receive federal financial aid. Among other provisions, Title IX governs sexual harassment and misconduct policies at universities receiving federal assistance, including Duke. 

Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' proposed changes to Title IX regulations would narrow Title IX's definition of sexual harassment and introduce new rules governing universities' process in responding to Title IX cases. The proposed changes are open for public comment until Jan. 28, 2019. 

Kallem also discussed areas where the University may push back against the proposed rule changes. An area of concern for the University includes new regulations requiring universities to allow advisors to parties in sexual misconduct hearings to cross-examine each other. 

The full-time director of Title IX compliance position was created in 2014 to oversee training, policies, and the complaints process at the University. Kallem said that he is stepping down from the position at the end of the month, but expressed confidence that the University's strategy would not significantly change under the next director. 

The proposed definition describes sexual harassment as "severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive." A 2011 Department of Education memo describes it as "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature." 

Kallem suggested that the narrower definition of sexual harassment could give the University more flexibility in addressing cases that fall outside of its scope, as these cases would not be covered by the potential changes. He also said student protections would not be reduced at Duke. 

"If we use our regular student conduct procedures for those types of conduct that would fall outside the [Title IX] regulations, but that we currently address under the student misconduct policy, we will still have much the same protections in place for all parties," Kallem said.