Federal Court Reaffirms Institution’s Responsibility for Off-Campus Activity Under Title IX
In Farmer v. Kansas State University (“KSU”), a federal district court revisited the issue of when off-campus activity that would violate Title IX becomes the responsibility of a college or university to investigate and, if necessary, remediate. In this particular case, the plaintiff alleged that she was sexually assaulted at an off-campus fraternity party. Under Title IX, coverage is only triggered when harassment occurs within an “education program or activity.” Stated another way, “‘there must be some nexus between the out-of-school conduct and the school to impose Title IX liability.'” (Citations omitted). For KSU, the off-campus fraternity satisfied this nexus requirement because (1) it is a student housing organization that is available only to KSU students and fraternities and sororities are promoted as such by the University; (2) the director of the fraternity was a KSU instructor; (3) KSU employs individuals to support fraternities and sororities; and (4) KSU had the authority to regulate fraternity houses and to promulgate rules of conduct.
Client Tip: Title IX responsibilities for colleges and universities do not end with campus boundaries. The potential for off-campus activity to create Title IX exposure is obvious. Therefore, colleges and universities need to be aware of when off-campus activity triggers Title IX responsibility to investigate and potentially remediate.
Approved Investigators of Sexual Misconduct
Bowditch attorneys are regularly retained by institutions of higher education to conduct sexual misconduct investigations. Our attorneys are approved investigators of sexual misconduct and frequently hired by United Educators. We also provide consulting services and training to colleges, universities and secondary schools on a wide variety of issues relating to preventing, investigating and responding to sexual misconduct.