Explaining Title IX

Written by Taylor Blatchford, Designed by Carlie Procell

Brought to you by The Maneater

What is Title IX?

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in any educational program receiving federal funding. Part of a broader education law, the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX states that “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.”

Almost all public or private colleges and universities receive federal funding, primarily in the form of federal financial aid given to students and money given for research. The anti-gender discrimination law isn’t limited to academics. It also includes campus admissions, financial aid, athletics, student treatment and services, counseling and guidance, housing and employment.

Title IX was initially best-known for its impact on gender equity in athletics. However, it’s been used more recently in the context of sexual assault on college campuses.

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How is Title IX related to sexual assault?

Sexual harassment and sexual violence fall under Title IX’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex. A 2011 letter from the U.S. Department of Education cited Title IX to remind colleges and universities of their responsibilities to deal with complaints of sexual discrimination, harassment and violence. Students have the right to an education “free from discrimination,” and the letter states sexual assault interferes with that right.

All colleges and universities receiving federal financial assistance must fulfill a series of requirements for Title IX, according to a document published by the Department of Education in April 2014. The school is required to “investigate and address sexual violence,” a process that includes protecting the complainant, ensuring his or her safety and providing information on school resources.

Schools are also required to designate an employee responsible for coordinating Title IX resources and ensuring compliance. Schools also have to publish a notice of nondiscrimination stating that “the school does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs and activities, and that it is required by Title IX not to discriminate in such a manner,” as well as providing contact information for the designated Title IX coordinator. Finally, schools must publish grievance procedures that specify how they will resolve complaints of sexual discrimination or sexual violence against students or employees.

The federal government has continued to scrutinize educators for violation of this policy. In September 2014, the White House launched the “It’s On Us” campaign to combat sexual assault on college campuses. Title IX frequently makes headlines when a school is accused of not following its procedures of investigating sexual assaults.

How is Title IX related to sports?

Title IX calls for equal opportunities for both sexes in athletic participation, scholarships and benefits and services provided to teams, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. It doesn’t require that schools spend the same amount on sports for both sexes. It also doesn’t require that the same sports are available for both sexes, which is why there are wide variations in the type and number of sports opportunities for both male and female. At MU, for example, there are eight sports available to men and 10 sports available to women.

The policy led to a huge increase in female participation in sports, according to the National Coalition for Women and Girls in Education. Less than 30,000 women played college sports before Title IX was passed in 1972; in 2011, that number had grown to more than 190,000. In 1972, women received 2 percent of schools’ athletic budgets and no athletic scholarships. In 2009, women received 40 percent of total athletic budgets at Division I schools and 48 percent of total athletic scholarship money.

Title IX also greatly impacted participation in high school sports. In 1972, just 7 percent of high school athletes were girls. In 2011, girls made up about 41 percent of high school athletes.

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Who is in charge of Title IX at MU?

MU recently appointed Ellen Eardley, a lawyer in Washington D.C., as its new Title IX administrator. Eardley and three other candidates visited campus for interviews and open forums in December, which ultimately led up to the final announcement Feb. 25. The administrator is in charge of the university’s Title IX compliance and coordinating training, education and procedures, according to MU’s Title IX website.

The Title IX coordinator became a full-time position in June 2014, when Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin publicly acknowledged the need to improve how the university handles sexual assault cases. The Title IX coordinator was previously a part-time position. Linda Bennett, an associate professor in the College of Education, has served as interim Title IX coordinator since June 2014, and Eardley will replace her on April 20.

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What's the process for Title IX complaints at MU?

An online form that allows members of the university community or third parties to report incidents with the option of remaining anonymous can be found on the MU Title IX website. These reports are sent directly to the Title IX coordinator, who reviews the information and decides what investigative steps should be taken.

The university prioritizes privacy of those involved in a complaint, but sometimes limited information must be disclosed to investigate a report, according to the Title IX website. MU prevents retaliation against anyone for making a report of a Title IX offense, and may excuse students for “minor student conduct violations,” such as alcohol or drug use, involved in a reported incident.

Who's required to report Title IX offenses at MU?

All MU employees are mandated reporters, meaning they are required to report acts of sexual harassment, misconduct and discrimination to the Title IX Coordinator. This includes MU faculty, staff, student workers, teaching assistants and graduate assistants. Certain employees, such as health care workers, counselors and lawyers, are exempt from the mandatory reporting, but are required to report general information about individual incidents of sexual discrimination to the Title IX coordinator once a month. This policy has been in place since UM System President Tim Wolfe issued Executive Order 40 in April 2014.

Bystanders of incidents are strongly encouraged to report them to the Title IX office, according to the Title IX website. The website also encourages bystanders to take action by intervening if it is safe, getting help, or reporting the incident.

Wasn't there a big report about Title IX last year?

Yes. On May 1, 2014, the Department of Education released a list of 55 schools under federal investigation for possible violations based on how they handled complaints of sexual violence and harassment. The department has investigated individual colleges previously, but this was the first comprehensive look at all schools that had potentially violated the law’s requirements. No Missouri schools were on the initial list, but the Missouri University of Science and Technology was included in an updated list released Jan. 7, 2015. Vanderbilt University is the only Southeastern Conference university under investigation.

Although MU is not on any of the federal government’s official scrutiny lists, news reports have listed the university among schools “facing a controversy over sexual violence cases not specifically related to a federal complaint or investigation.” Media coverage has pointed to the report that Mizzou Athletics failed to investigate Sasha Menu Courey’s alleged sexual assault before the former Missouri swimmer took her own life in June 2011. After an ESPN Outside the Lines report in January 2014 claimed that MU didn’t investigate the alleged rape by a football player, the university released a statement saying it would assist the Columbia Police Department in conducting an investigation. UM System President Tim Wolfe also ordered university chancellors to comprehensively review campus sexual assault policies.

What training does MU have in place for Title IX?

As of Feb. 19, all students are expected to complete an online training aimed at preventing future sexual violence incidents. Interim Title IX coordinator Linda Bennett estimated that the training will take students about an hour to complete. It includes sections on sexual assault, consent, dating and domestic violence, bystander intervention and stalking. She said there won’t initially be consequences for students who don’t complete the training, but they will receive reminder emails every few weeks.

All MU employees, including students, are required to complete two online training courses, according to the MU Title IX website. The mandated reporter training is designed to teach employees about their duty to report behaviors that fall under Title IX. The training on harassment includes information on appropriate conduct in work and learning environments and how to respond to misconduct.

Can a faculty member get fired for a Title IX violation?

Yes. A tenured faculty can be dismissed for “harassment or discrimination in violation of the university’s anti-discrimination policies,” according to section 310.020 of the Collected Rules and Regulations, which deals with Title IX procedures. The rules were amended by the UM System Board of Curators in a unanimous vote during its Feb. 5 meeting to reflect this change.

If a faculty member is accused of a Title IX violation, a specific equity resolution process must be followed to resolve the complaint. The complaint can be resolved through administration, mediation or a three-member hearing panel, or it can be dismissed if the faculty member is not found responsible. The procedure for dismissal culminates in a decision made by the Campus Faculty Committee on Tenure, according to section 310.060 of the Collected Rules and Regulations.

How are Clery releases related to Title IX?

They’re related, but they’re part of different acts. Clery releases, or emails informing MU students and employees of crimes reported on campus, are part of the requirements of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, passed in 1990. The act requires all schools that participate in federal financial aid programs to send timely warnings about campus crimes that pose a threat to students or employees, according to the Clery Center for Security on Campus.

The Title IX office sends reports of sexual assault near campus to the MU Police Department which then determines if the offense is Clery-reportable, according to a Columbia Missourian report in September 2014. MU spokesman Christian Basi said in the article that the Title IX office and MUPD work together closely and share information, but each conduct investigations specific to their needs. The Title IX office investigates potential Title IX violations and MUPD investigates criminal activity.

MU has sent 22 Clery releases in the past two years, 16 of which involved sexual harassment or misconduct, according to MUPD. The most recent Clery release was on Nov. 6, 2014.

The Clery act also requires schools to publish an annual report that includes campus crime statistics from the past three years. According to MU’s 2013 Campus Crime and Fire Safety report, seven forcible sex offenses were reported on campus and four were reported off campus. This is an increase in reported incidents from 2012, when six forcible sex offenses were reported on campus and one was reported off campus. The highest numbers – 11 forcible sex offenses reported on campus and eight reported off campus – were recorded in 2011. The 2014 report has not yet been released.

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What resources are there related to Title IX at MU?

The MU Title IX website offers information on reporting Title IX violations, the rights and responsibilities of members of the MU community and Title IX policies. It also lists the following resources:

The University Hospital Emergency Department provides confidential forensic examinations, sexually transmitted disease testing and emergency contraception through its Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Clinic. There is no charge for collecting evidence, but charges apply for the medical exam and treatment.

The Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center supports survivors of sexual violence with confidential crisis intervention and advocacy. Appointments or walk-ins are accepted. The office is located in the lower level of the Student Center, and all services are free to students, faculty and staff.

The MU Police Department accepts reports of sexual assault and other crimes to be investigated by police. MUPD has jurisdiction on property that MU owns, leases or controls, as well as streets adjacent to campus.

True North is a local organization that provides victims of domestic and sexual violence with confidential support, advocacy and safe housing. The shelter’s 24-hour hotline number is 573-875-1370, and all services are free to victims and their children.

The Student Health Center provides confidential general medical assistance to students by appointment, including STD testing and mental health services. Some services are covered by the MU Student Health Fee.

The MU Counseling Center offers confidential individual and group therapy, consultation and programming to students. It also provides consultation to students who need help assisting a friend. The center has a 24-hour hotline, 573-882-6601, which is now being printed on new student ID cards.

The Psychological Services Clinic provides confidential individual, couple and group therapy and consultation. It does not offer crisis and immediate services.

Code Adapted From Pete R.

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