Higher education action group Universities UK and Pinsent Masons law firm have recently released a report providing new guidance to universities in the United Kingdom about handling incidents of sexual violence on campus. The report was prompted by a new influx of rape investigations occurring in the UK that is causing concern to administrators and campus communities.
While Title IX applies only to United States institutions, schools in the UK are having to more frequently perform investigations similar to those conducted under Title IX in the US. The report by Universities UK and Pinsent Masons provides recommendations that, while not legally binding, many schools will likely choose to implement.
These recommendations, in a nutshell, suggest that universities carry out their own investigations of sexual violence cases that are separate from any official legal investigations. The issue with sexual violence in the legal system is that assailants will often not be convicted unless they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The guidelines in the recent report recommend that even if a suspect is considered innocent after a legal investigation, the university itself should still complete its own independent investigation and take university-level punitive actions as needed.
The Key Components to Implementing these Guidelines
In order for UK schools to be able to successfully and fairly run their own investigations of reported sexual misconduct incidents, they need two critical ingredients: thorough documentation, and defined workflows that ensure information ends up in the right hands.
Without documentation of all details, it will be impossible for schools to gather enough evidence to conclude an investigation. Furthermore, without defined workflows routing each task to the appropriate administrator, investigations are prone to containing errors or facing major delays.
Solutions like Advocate address both of these problems, providing university staff with an organized timeline and predefined case management workflows ensuring that every team member has all the information they need to complete their parts of the investigation swiftly and accurately.