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Boston University School of Law




The mandate of Title IX is equality in educational opportunities. If educational institutions could prevent sexual assaults from occurring, they would more fully ensure that students are not limited in their ability to benefit from the school’s educational programs. However, Title IX administration on college campuses still focuses far more on post-assault infrastructure than on assault prevention.

Yet with the ever-increasing particularity of the assault response requirements emanating from the Department of Education (“DOE”)2 and courts, Title IX jurisprudence has strayed too far from this basic purpose: to ensure that students in federally funding schools are not denied or limited in their ability to participate in or benefit from the school’s educational programs or activities on the basis of sex.3 To deliver on the promise of educational equality, preventing sexual assault is at least as important as responding to it. To offer educational opportunities equally is to offer educational environments that are as free of sexual assault as may be accomplished within the state of knowledge on sexual assault prevention. Yet Title IX today promises only a highly intentional and developed response to assault when it happens. It does little to motivate institutions to use the tools available to them to avoid assault from the outset. This essay explores three questions: first, is the DOE’s post-assault focus an intentional understanding of equality in education? Second, what does prevention look like? And third, can universities achieve it?


Part of BU Law Review's Online Symposium: Title IX at 50: Learning from the Past & Looking to the Future

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