September 29, 2017

Last week the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights announced that it was changing regulations implementing Title IX, which governs how colleges respond to incidents of sexual violence. They have withdrawn Obama-era guidance and initiated the rulemaking notice and comment process required to establish formal regulations.

It will take several months to complete the formal rulemaking process, so the Department of Education released a Question and Answer document that lays out guidance to help schools comply with their obligations under Title IX until those regulations are finalized. Effective immediately:

  • Schools may choose to use either the "preponderance of the evidence" standard or the "clear and convincing" standard for civil rights cases, including sexual violence
  • Schools must resolve sexual misconduct complaints within a reasonably prompt time frame
  • Schools are empowered to use mediation in sexual violence cases

The Luther College Student Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures have not and will not change due to this new guidance. We will continue to resolve sexual misconduct complaints in a prompt, equitable and caring manner, and will continue to use the "preponderance of the evidence" standard in our adjudications. We will reevaluate our policies and procedures when the Department of Education finalizes its regulations next year.

Luther College remains committed to creating and maintaining a safe and healthy environment where all members of the community—students, faculty, staff and visitors—are treated with respect and dignity. Therefore, the college will not tolerate sexual misconduct in any form. Sexual violence is first and foremost an act against an individual; it is also an act that affects the entire college community. Sexual violence is inconsistent with our educational mission, and students found responsible for such acts are subject to disciplinary measures up to and including expulsion.

Annual Security Report

The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) requires that colleges and universities receiving federal funding maintain and publicly disclose campus crime statistics for the preceding three years, as well as security information and policies. The definitions in the Clery Act are used by all institutions in the United States to classify and report crimes under the act. The Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2013, commonly referred to as VAWA, modified the definitions of some of the sexual offenses beginning with the 2014 data.

As required by the Clery Act, this year’s report identifies the numerous educational efforts that Luther has instituted for students and employees. The programs are described within the report and Luther continues to explore additional ways to educate the community about these very important issues. A task force has been formed and charged with identifying an actionable, strategic approach to prevention, education and outreach efforts related to community well being. 

Over the past several years, Luther has worked to clarify its policies related to sexual violence and harassment, to remove barriers for reporting incidents of sexual violence, and to educate the community regarding the college's no tolerance policy on sexual violence. An increase in the number of reported incidents of sexual violence, specifically rape and fondling (terms used in the Clery report; labeled non-consensual sexual intercourse and non-consensual sexual contact in Luther’s policy) as well as dating violence was expected. In 2016, seven rapes were reported compared to three in 2015 and one in 2014; four fondling incidents were reported in 2016 compared to two in 2015 and one in 2014; and reported incidents of dating violence were four in 2016, zero in 2015, and one in 2014. Research has shown such incidents are under-reported on college campuses and we are committed to supporting the community through accessible reporting systems. 

The annual Fire Safety Report is also available within the Annual Security Report. A paper copy is available, or the information can be accessed online: The information is available as a downloadable pdf file.

Campus crime statistics apply to students and employees. Members of our community who are subjected to a crime should report it to Campus Security and/or Decorah Police. Contact Robert Harri, director of Campus Safety and Security, [email protected] with questions or for clarification.