The American Civil Liberties Union of D.C. conducted an investigation into the University’s Title IX disciplinary measures related to a case involving a GW Law alumna, DCist reported late last month.
Dorea Batté, a law school alumna from the Class of 2019, filed a mutual no-contact order with the University’s Title IX Office against a classmate who had been “harassing” her with unwanted text messages and phone calls in 2018, according to DCist. But when Batté applied for the D.C. bar in January, she learned that her order showed up as a disciplinary action against her in the D.C. Court of Appeals, which oversees admissions to the bar, DCist reported.
“It really worried me,” Batté told DCist. “It was starting to get stressful as to what the bar would believe or take into consideration because GW’s supposed to be a very reputable school.”
When Batté reached out to the University, an administrator stood by her bar report and told Batté that she was free to “provide whatever explanation you believe to be appropriate to the D.C. Bar,” according to the D.C. ACLU. Batté told DCist she asked the D.C. chapter of the ACLU in April to convince the University to write to the bar clarifying the no-contact order was not a “disciplinary” action.
After being contacted by the ACLU, Elizabeth Ewert, the law school’s associate dean of students, wrote a letter to the bar explaining that Batté requested the mutual no-contact order, DCist reported. Ewert had originally signed a legal form in January certifying Batté graduated from GW and checked a box indicating that she violated the law school honor code or was disciplined by the University, according to the ACLU.
Ewert had attached a copy of the no-contact order barring Batté from contacting the classmate who allegedly harassed her at first with no further explanation, DCist said. ACLU representatives said they asked GW to reform the reporting process to prevent future students from suffering “adverse” consequences for future no-contact orders filed, but the school would not commit.
The U.S. Department of Education’s new Title IX regulations enacted in May claim mutual no-contact orders are a supportive measure that may be used as an accommodation that does not punish the respondent involved, according to the ACLU.
“But if schools use mutual no-contact orders to punish the complaining student, it will not only fail as an accommodation; it will also chill complainants from reporting harassment at all,” the ACLU said in an article on their website.
University spokesperson Crystal Nosal told DCist the University is “glad to hear that this student reported that her individual concern was resolved.” Nosal declined to comment further on the case because she said the University cannot discuss issues involving individual students.
She said officials do not consider no-contact orders as punishment and is no longer reporting them to state bars.
“Mutual no-contact orders are not disciplinary actions, they are not reported to third parties as disciplinary actions and they are not listed as a sanction on University conduct records,” Nosal said in the DCist article.