Containing spread of the coronavirus is not the only challenge colleges are preparing for this fall.

The Trump administration this summer approved drastic changes to Title IX that are set to go into effect Friday. The new rules force schools to adopt policies that are harmful to the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff. They diminish hard-won gains in policies and protocols that hold schools accountable for reducing sexual violence on campus.

That’s why we’re calling on universities in the Boston area to continue with their current policies by folding them into their codes of conduct. For example, complaints of sexual misconduct that would have fallen under the old Title IX rules but can no longer be investigated under the new rules, can still be resolved under a non-Title IX code of conduct and separate grievance process.

There are two Title IX changes that are so problematic they will likely lead to reduced reporting of sexual harassment, assault, and abuse as well as increased harm to students, faculty, and staff who’ve been subjected to sexual violence.

First, the new rules mandate that grievance proceedings in higher education include live cross-examination. This means that students can now employ trained advocates or attorneys to engage in adversarial questioning on their behalf. This requirement, which has the potential to re-traumatize a survivor, will likely be a major deterrent to reporting. Given that campus proceedings are not criminal legal trials, and determining the facts in these cases via written questions and answers is sufficient, this change seems designed to disadvantage those reporting Title IX violations.

Second, the new rules dramatically narrow what can be reported. For example, sexual assault that occurs in off-campus housing no longer falls under Title IX. And unwelcome sexual conduct doesn’t fall under Title IX until it has escalated to being so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that the person subjected to it is unable to continue with their education.

On July 14, a graduate student at Dartmouth College began a hunger strike to demand that the school investigate her complaints of sexual harassment by a professor in the computer science department. On August 6, the school named an outside investigator to review the case. What school wants rules in place that force students to harm themselves in order to be taken seriously?

None of these changes alter the fact that sexual harassment, assault, and abuse remains pervasive. A 2019 survey of 181,752 undergraduate and graduate students at 33 universities found that 13 percent experienced “nonconsensual sexual contact by physical force or inability to consent.” Rates were highest among undergraduate women (25.9%), followed by undergraduate students identifying as transgender, gender queer, nonbinary, or gender questioning (22.8%), graduate students also identifying as such (14.5%), women graduate students (9.7%), and undergraduate men (6.8%).

What the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center has seen over the years is that when institutions of higher education fail their students — both survivors and people who have been reported as perpetrators — it is inevitably because there was no Title IX process in place or established protocols were ignored. Weakening policies because of the new Title IX rules is only going to make things worse.

Since 2012, United Educators, which is one of the largest insurers for post-secondary schools, has released an annual report summarizing damage awards greater than $250,000 paid by schools. Cases involving sexual assault have dominated the reports every year, and in 2019, the organization warned that settlement costs of sexual assault cases “have been increasing” due to increased attention to sexual harassment, abuse, and assault cases “in the wake of the #MeToo movement.” It did not help matters, United Educators added, that schools in these legal cases “often use outdated techniques, such as attacking the victims or denying all responsibility.”

Ultimately, the most significant costs in these cases are borne by student survivors whose education and career potential can be derailed as they focus on surviving, and then recovering and regaining their mental health and well-being.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Schools can choose to do the right thing.

Gina Scaramella is the executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center.