Nevada regents approve Title IX change after heated exchange
LAS VEGAS — After a heated meeting, the Board of Regents voted to change the sexual harassment policy to comply with new federal Title IX regulations, which critics say make it harder for sexual assault victims to obtain justice.
Dean Gould, the Nevada System of Higher Education chief of staff, was criticized on social media after saying he was going to speak over a regent if she continued talking during the Friday meeting.
“I don’t want to man-speak but I will have to if you continue to child-speak, so please stop,” said Gould, who is also the Board of Regents’ special counsel.
His comment was directed at Lisa Levine, who in addition to regents Donald McMichael Sr. and John Moran opposed a motion to change the policy.
Before the vote, Levine said she had important information from Attorney General Aaron Ford she wanted to relay to her colleagues. That’s when Gould interjected.
“This kind of patronizing & condescending treatment toward a member of the Board of Regents (or anyone) is completely unacceptable & deserves to be widely condemned. I expect a swift apology to @Lisa—C—Levine — not that she needs me to request one on her behalf,” Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak said on Twitter.
Sisolak appointed Levine to fill a vacancy on the board beginning in early June.
Gould issued a statement that said Levine was “disrupting the defined procedural process” during an attempt to take a roll call vote. “At that time, I became frustrated at her lack of decorum. In retrospect, I should not have stooped to her level of acrimony.”
Title IX, which was originally passed in the 1970s, prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal aid. The U.S. Department of Education issued new Title IX regulations in May that raise the burden of proof needed to successfully argue harassment, require investigators to presume any accused person is innocent and require that any investigation into harassment or assault include a live hearing with cross-examination conducted by an “advisor.”
Critics argue these changes weaken a system meant to protect victims. Supporters of the changes say the old rules made it too easy for false accusations to ruin the reputations of the falsely accused.
Education Chancellor Thom Reilly told regents that not adopting the new regulations would put them out of compliance with federal law and could jeopardize millions of dollars in federal funding.
The Board of Regents voted 10-3 on Friday to approve.
The regulations go into effect Aug. 14.