A group of 35 civil rights organizations sent a letter to the Education Department to demand it investigate claims that colleges and universities are requiring students to sign nondisclosure agreements before the institution will look into a Title IX claim.
“The agreements—conditioning access to a school’s grievance process on silence and a forfeiture of other rights or due process—are coercive, unconscionable, and retaliatory,” said the letter. “They violate federal law and policy aimed at protecting students, many of whom are minors. Schools engaged in this practice are creating unsafe educational environments which disproportionately impact women, girls, students of color, and students in the LGBTQI+ community. Although establishing some degree of confidentiality for sensitive and private information disclosed in the campus grievance process is appropriate, this can be achieved in far better ways than requiring unconditional assent to such agreements.”
The letter also requests that the Education Department prohibit all uses of confidentiality agreements prior to Title IX investigations and inform students of their right to counsel before such an investigation begins.