It might seem confusing and difficult to understand what the Title IX office does on your campus.
As a campus victim advocate, I often have a front-row seat to the Title IX process. In my time in this role, I’ve learned a lot about federal law, how Title IX coordinators can support students and other campus community members, and what Title IX can do for students and employees.
Title IX is a federal law that states:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
This short law has big implications for your campus. In current interpretations by Title IX offices, students who’ve faced gender-based harassment, violence, or stalking have a right for the harm to be remedied. Furthermore, they have a right to receive support and accommodations to help them achieve success in college despite the harassment or violence they’ve faced.
Because of this, universities and colleges must employ a Title IX coordinator to remedy situations, provide accommodations, and offer ongoing training and prevention education across campus.
Many Title IX coordinators have a background in law. This is beneficial because applying federal law to student support is crucial. Other Title IX coordinators have backgrounds in student conduct or advocacy.
Although there are no universal degree or experience requirements for coordinators, these professionals are always trained in upholding an equitable process for all involved parties, along with trauma-informed responses and best practices in violence prevention.
Title IX may be another great support resource for you to add to your bag of tricks. In my experience, Title IX can support community members who have faced violence on or off-campus (including study abroad programs), those who have faced harassment because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and those who are pregnant.
Here are some ways your Title IX office might be able to support you.
(Just remember: Every campus is different, so it’s best to connect with your Title IX coordinator in person to see how they may be able to assist you.)
4 Typesof Support
Title IX can support students you’re working with
Many student affairs practitioners enter the field because they find meaning in serving others and helping them through difficult times. However, supporting students who’ve faced traumatic violence or harassment can be extremely taxing. It can also be too much to pile on to the other important support work you are already doing.
Title IX exists to support students who’ve faced gender-based harassment or violence. So, for example, although you might not personally be able to excuse a student from class after they’ve faced violence, Title IX can usually help students secure that accommodation.
Consider Title IX another avenue for student support on campus, similar to the counseling center or student wellness office.
If you are a mandatory reporter on your campus, remember that connecting students with Title IX provides them with a wealth of resources that you may not be able to provide directly through your role.
Students have a right to decide if they want to pursue Title IX accommodations or an investigation. Not connecting them with Title IX can keep them from getting the support or processes they desire.
It’s also important for me to share that working with a Title IX coordinator does not mean you will have to pursue an investigation. In most cases, the Title IX coordinator will only pursue an investigation if that is the victim’s wish. However, in cases of repeat offenses or extreme or gratuitous violence, a Title IX coordinator may have to move forward without the consent of the victim, if campus safety is at risk.
Title IX can support you
If you are facing gender-based violence or harassment on or off-campus, Title IX can also support you as an employee.
Your Title IX coordinator may be able to connect you with accommodations, such as no longer working in the same space as someone who has made inappropriate jokes to you. They may also be able to offer support services like connecting you with a counselor.
On my campus, Title IX can connect employees with campus advocates who can offer support including help in getting a restraining order, safety planning, and accompaniment to the hospital.
Title IX coordinators can also work with human resources if the harasser’s actions violate employment policy. When an employee complaint to human resources is related to gender-based harassment, the Title IX coordinator may be looped into the situation in case they have heard of other instances from the same person, or if they need to help the employee connect to support services.
All individuals on campus have a right to a safe environment free from gender-based harassment, and that includes employees.
Title IX can provide informal resolutions
Not every person who experiences behavior that is prohibited by Title IX is interested in pursuing the formal investigation process, as it can be draining and stressful. So, Title IX can sometimes offer informal resolutions.
For example, if a faculty member says something offensive in class but a student is not interested in an investigation, the Title IX coordinator can offer to meet with that faculty member and let them know how their statement was perceived by the class and to not do it again.
Another informal resolution I have seen is when a student wants to make sure they do not have classes with their perpetrator, the Title IX coordinator can cross-check class schedules to verify that the perpetrator is not in any courses with the victim. If they are, the student can choose to move to a new section before the semester begins.
Often, students will request for their perpetrator’s name to be recorded so that if another person ever comes forward, they can assist with any later investigations. The other benefit of working with Title IX in this way is that it creates a record of inappropriate behavior. If the same person does something like that ever again, it will already be on Title IX’s radar if and when another victim comes forward.
Title IX can provide specific training
If your department or office would benefit from training on how Title IX can support students or employees, you can work with your campus’ Title IX coordinator to implement one.
Many campuses already have mandatory online training but meeting your Title IX coordinator in person can still be valuable. Because lots of people may have the perception that this person might be intimidating, it can be beneficial to meet them in person. It will help you relate to them as another valuable, approachable resource on campus.
Title IX coordinators can give you a broad overview of Title IX’s process on your campus. Plus, they also may be able to provide training on how to support students who are involved in an investigation and how to prevent gender-based violence and harassment. They might even be able to conduct department or office-specific training for your group.
Every coordinator is different, so be sure to connect with yours regarding what training options they can provide.
Title IX is an important resource for you and your students. It’s important to have an understanding of how to utilize the resources that Title IX has available. It can be complex, but it’s more than likely you have a Title IX coordinator on campus who is willing to show you all of the ways they can support you on campus.
What questions do you still have about Title IX? Connect with us on Twitter @HelloPresence.