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OPINION: Your Rights Under Title IX Are Changing, But SHARPP’s Services Are Not

Dear students, 

You may have received an email from UNH a few weeks ago informing you of changes to Title IX. Title IX is a federal law set by the Department of Education prohibiting discrimination based on gender in schools, including sexual harassment and assault. It ensures a safe learning environment for all students, and requires schools to take seriously and investigate reports of sexual misconduct. 

As a student, or a student survivor, you may be impacted by these changes or have some questions as to what they might mean for you. You may have been caught off guard by this change or feel worried that you may not get the support that you need. 

First, we want to assure you that the Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) will continue to be here to offer confidential support and advocacy despite these recent changes. Even though Title IX has changed, SHARPP’s services have not. As a confidential campus advocacy center, we cannot report incidents of violence to the university or the police, as we are not a reporting office or entity on campus. However, if you choose to participate in any of these processes, SHARPP will continue to accompany and support you.  

Here are a few things we think you should know about changes to Title IX: 

  1. The definition of sexual misconduct under Title IX has changed. Under the new regulations, the definition of sexual harassment has been heavily narrowed to incidents that are “severe, pervasive and objectively offensive.” Other misconduct like domestic violence or sexual assault does not have to meet that threshold. This may mean that some behaviors — if they do not fit these narrowed definitions — are no longer subject to investigation by UNH under Title IX rules. However, UNH can still respond to these incidents through other university policies. 
  1. UNH no longer has to investigate violence that happened off campus, even if all parties involved were UNH students. Title IX has narrowed the scope of which incidents of violence a school must investigate. If violence occurred outside of the university, even if both parties are affiliated with UNH, the university may not be required to investigate it under Title IX, however can still investigate under other university policies. 
  1. Accused parties now have greater rights to participate in Title IX proceedings. This means that a perpetrator’s advisor or accompanying parties will be able to cross-examine the survivor, a process that could be re-traumatizing to survivors. 
  1. SHARPP advocates will continue to support survivors during Title IX proceedings and offer support as much as we can to survivors throughout the process. New guidelines do not change SHARPP’s role in these processes, and survivors are still entitled to support regardless of whether they make a Title IX complaint or not. 

If you have any questions about what these changes to Title IX may mean for you, or about SHARPP services, please don’t hesitate to reach out via our confidential 24/7 helpline: (603) 862-7233. SHARPP’s services are free and confidential to the UNH community, and while our services may look a little different this semester, we are still here for you remotely or face-to-face. 

Amid the current pandemic, our office hours are Monday-Friday 10am-4pm. Walk-ins are available, but appointments — or even a phone call a few minutes before walking in the building — will help us prepare a clean space for you. Our services are confidential, meaning we will not have to report incidents of defying social distancing or mask guidelines. 

Advocates can also be reached via our live text and web chat services 9am-4pm Monday-Friday. 



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