Title IX Office expects rise in investigations after changes

MU’s new Office for Civil Rights and Title IX handles a wider range of discrimination besides sexual harassment.

Since its creation in June 2014, the Title IX Office has made significant changes to its policies and procedures, which have resulted in an expected increase in sexual harassment investigations.

According to its first annual report, the Title IX Office received reports of 374 alleged policy violations from Aug. 1, 2014, to July 31, 2015.

Most of the reports have been student to student complaints, chair of MU’s ad hoc faculty committee on Title IX Cooper Drury said.

“What I see it as, in my understanding, is it’s not an increase in things actually happening, but an increase in reporting, which the committee sees as a success in the reporting rules, activities and training that the Title IX Office has rolled out,” Drury said.

However, the Title IX Office has only released one report, from the 2014–15 school year, which makes it hard to draw comparisons with previous years.

“We expect an increase in reports as the university community learns more about the services offered by the Office for Civil Rights and Title IX,” Title IX Administrator Ellen Eardley said in an email. “Many people know that we investigate discrimination and sexual violence, but that is not all that our office does.”

According to the MU News Bureau, the Title IX Office has made the following changes since fall 2014:

  • Creating a new Title IX Office, hiring a permanent Title IX administrator and three investigators.
  • Implementing the “Not Anymore” online program, a video-based educational program about sexual assault, consent, dating violence, stalking and bystander intervention required for all new undergraduate, graduate and transfer students.
  • Executing online sex discrimination training for all faculty and staff during the 2014–2015 academic year.
  • Implementing and revising new policies regarding sex discrimination, which include requiring all employees to report incidents to the Title IX Office.
  • Adopting new procedures for investigating complaints against faculty and staff.
  • Training 60 employees on gender discrimination and university policies through a two- to eight-day training course.
  • Creating promotional materials including a website to report Title IX violations and provide information about students’ rights and options regarding Title IX incidents.
  • Working with Residential Life, Greek Life, Athletics, the Provost’s Office and the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center to hold workshops and other educational opportunities including Green Dot, a bystander intervention program.
  • Ongoing coordination among campus and community stakeholders who most frequently respond to reports of sex-based violence in monthly meetings of MU’s Sexual Assault Response Team.
  • “Students, faculty and staff now have a better understanding of how to report and help people who have been victims of sexual harassment or discrimination,” Drury said. Garnett Stokes, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs [announced the creation](http://www.themaneater.com/stories/2015/12/1/eardley-lead-new-office-civil-rights-and-title-ix/) of a new Office for Civil Rights and Title IX on Dec. 2. Prior to the creation of the Office for Civil Rights and Title IX, discrimination and sexual harassment reports were not investigated in a centralized location or with a standardized set of procedures. “The Title IX Office was only responsible for reports of all types of sex discrimination against students or third parties,” Eardley said in an email. “The scope of the Office for Civil Rights and Title IX is much broader.” The new office investigates discrimination or harassment due to race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, genetic information, disability or veteran status, according to the [office’s website](http://missouri.edu/civil-rights-title-ix/). According to the article, the Office for Civil Rights and Title IX is coordinating non-discrimination and equity efforts throughout campus through partnerships with the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative, the Office of Student Conduct, the MU Equity Office, Office of Accessibility and ADA Education, MUPD, Human Resources and the Provost’s Office. The Office for Civil Rights and Title IX provides victims of discrimination with resources and referrals to help them stay in school and/or continue employment, Eardley said. “No one is required to pursue a complaint of discrimination,” Eardley said. “In some cases, a full investigation is not pursued and may not be necessary. It is important to remember that the number of reports to my office is not the same as the number of incidents of discrimination.” _Edited by Taylor Blatchford | tblatchford@themaneater.com_

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