Suzanne B. Goldberg, a Columbia University law professor and administrator, was appointed on Thursday to a key role in the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. The office oversees the federal government’s enforcement of Title IX, the law that covers campus sexual misconduct and LGBTQ rights, among other things.
President Biden named Goldberg as a deputy assistant secretary and, for now, as acting assistant secretary for civil rights — the office’s top job. Goldberg, an expert on gender and sexuality law, has for the past six years served as Columbia’s vice president for university life, where she worked closely with the institution’s Title IX office and its handling of cases of sexual assault and harassment. See the Columbia Daily Spectator for a more detailed rundown of her tenure.
When Biden was vice president, he spearheaded the Obama administration’s aggressive enforcement of Title IX, a period that was cheered and criticized. Back then, the civil-rights office issued several guidance documents imploring colleges to take victims’ reports of sexual misconduct more seriously and threatening to take away institutions’ federal funding if they didn’t comply.
The Trump administration rescinded most of the Obama-era guidance, saying the directives had created an unfair system that was biased in favor of victims and railroaded many students accused of wrongdoing. The Trump-era Education Department went through a yearslong process to issue regulations under Title IX. The new rules, which went into effect in August, require colleges to ramp up their due-process protections.
Biden has vowed to put a “quick end” to the Title IX rules as president. Goldberg wrote in The Chronicle in 2019 that she doesn’t support at least one of the regulatory mandates introduced by the Trump administration: cross examination, in which the students involved in a sexual-misconduct case have the opportunity, through their advisers, to directly question each other’s version of events at a live hearing. “Campuses are not courtrooms,” she wrote.