Princeton University said Thursday that it is considering creating a team of trained investigators that will conduct the probes into sexual assault allegations on campus.
The possible changes come just four months after the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights began an investigation into the handling of sexual assault cases at Princeton and 54 other colleges across the U.S. Since, the number of schools under investigation has grown to 76, as reported in a recent TIME cover story. While classes resume this month, students have picked up protests from the previous spring about the number of rapes perpetrated on campus and the failure to bring the assailants to justice.
A faculty-advisory committee wrote the recommendations for the Ivy League university over the summer. Princeton and many other schools have been accused of leaving the arbitration of sexual-assault cases up to committee members who have not been trained in how to handle such matters. The new committee would ensure that judges educated in the delicacies of such a case would make the final decisions.
The committee is also suggesting that Princeton change the standard of evidence in sexual misconduct cases to a preponderance of evidence rather than “clear and persuasive.” The recommendations further stipulate that the accuser and the accused each be allowed to have lawyers present at disciplinary hearings — rather than just faculty advisers, as the rules currently allow — though the attorneys would not be able to speak during interviews and meetings.
Princeton, which has been under investigation since 2010, believes its new rules will bring it into compliance with Title IX, a statute that prohibits gender discrimination at schools that accept federal funding and outlines rules about sexual misconduct policies. The university will present the proposals to the faculty on Sept. 15 and to the larger community on Sept. 29.