With Election Day less than three months away, the political season is heating up here in South Carolina. In Washington D.C., Congress went home empty-handed.
CARES Act follow-up
U.S. Senators and House members went home on Friday for a recess without passing follow-up legislation to the CARES Act. This is bad news for our campuses as proposals from both sides of the aisle included significant financial support for higher education. Additionally, the Senate Republicans sought liability protection for businesses and higher education institutions that comply with federal or state guidance regarding COVID-19.
Without a deal, President Trump issued the following executive orders, the legality of which will likely be tested in court:
- Extend the federal unemployment supplement — the $600-per-week unemployment insurance benefit expired on July 31 – at a rate of $400 per week, with $100 to be paid by the state.
- Provide a payroll tax holiday through December 31, 2020 to employees whose bi-weekly wages or compensation are generally less than $4,000.
- Extend through December 31, 2020 the temporary cessation of payments and the waiver of all interest on student loans held by the Department of Education. NOTE: The waiver does not pertain to loans held by banks.
- Direct the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, to review how the federal government might prevent evictions and foreclosures for renters and homeowners resulting from COVID-19.
Along with all other colleges and universities, SCICU member institutions by August 14 must enact new Title IX policies regarding sexual assault and harassment that comply with U.S. Education Department regulations.
The new regulations, more than 2,000 pages of them (a summary is available), make significant changes to how most campuses operate by requiring a system of adjudication that is more like court, including the right to cross-examine individuals who have made a sexual assault claim. However, the survivors do not have to appear in person. Campuses will also be required to adopt a single standard of evidence for students, faculty and staff – either the more rigorous “clear and convincing evidence,” or the current requirement, “preponderance of evidence,” which is defined as 51 percent of the evidence favoring a finding of fault.
SCICU was proud last week to host a Zoom Title IX webinar with the Ogletree Deakins law firm that was attended by nearly 70 staff members from SCICU campuses. The webinar was an opportunity to receive the perspective of a legal expert and ask specific questions.