The Importance of No-Contact Orders in the College Title IX Process
After someone makes a Title IX complaint of sexual assault or harassment at a college or university, a long process can ensue before the school resolves the matter—or even decides how to best go about resolving the matter. During this time, the school must take necessary interim measures to keep the students involved safe. One common measure is to enforce a No Contact Order (NCO) between the students.
Schools can enact NCOs at different times during the Title IX process, including:
- Before an investigation begins
- During the investigation phase
- During the informal preliminary stage, while the school decides how to handle the matter (sometimes call No Contact Agreements)
- During the formal disciplinary process
NCOs can change an accused student’s life, but they provide important protections from further harassment or harm for the survivor. The following provides additional information about NCOs.
What Is a No Contact Order?
No Contact Orders are similar to restraining orders in domestic violence cases, though courts do not order them. Instead, the school should decide the scope and specific terms of the NCO based on the circumstances at hand. Since the new guidance in 2017, a school cannot make an NCO—or any other safety measures—available to only one party. Schools also may not favor one party over the other during the process by establishing unfair or one-sided terms of the order.
An NCO can prevent one party from contacting the other by any of the following means:
- In person
- Calls or texts
- Social media
- Through friends
In addition to prohibiting contact, certain NCOs may make spatial restrictions as well. For example, one student may not visit or live in the same vicinity or building as the other, which can limit access to dining halls, libraries, dorms, and other popular buildings on campus. One student may also need to move or switch classes as an additional interim measure and ensure compliance with the NCO.
Goals of an NCO
First and foremost, colleges and universities should focus on protecting the well-being and safety of students in the Title IX process. Like many federal laws, Title IX not only prohibits sexual discrimination (including harassment and assault), but also prohibits retaliation against parties involved in Title IX complaints.
For example, if a Student A reports sexual assault by Student B, Student A and friends may want to “punish” Student B through taunts or humiliation. On the flip side, Student B and friends may want to make Student A’s life miserable for making the report.
NCOs not only hope to prevent any further assaults or harassment between the students but retaliation as well, which keep the college in line with Title IX requirements. Prohibiting students—and even their friends—from speaking to the other party protects against retaliation throughout the entire process so the students can continue their educations as normally as possible.
Do You Have an NCO?
Whether you are the complainant or respondent to a Title IX case at your college, you may find an NCO in place against you. You must abide by all of the terms of the order to prevent any further trouble. Violating an NCO can result in additional disciplinary charges against you and may even result in retaliation claims. Even if you just want to call the other student to apologize or explain, you shouldn’t even do so if it violates a No Contact Order.
Call a New Haven, Connecticut, Title IX and NCO Attorney
NCOs are only one complicated part of the intricate Title IX process. Hire an experienced Title IX attorney to help you navigate the process and prevent any unforeseen consequences. If you’re accused of a Title IX violation or want to make a complaint, please call Duffy Law at (203) 946-2000 or write us online to discuss your situation today.