For most college students, one of their major reasons for attending has nothing to do with academics. As a college graduate, I can tell you firsthand that most of us were in it for the college experience. It wasn’t the long nights studying or the hour-long lectures that stuck with us, but the opportunity to embrace our new-adult liberty and mingle with our peers.
As you’re wide-eyed and full of wonder this semester, it’s worth learning more about the protections you have as you embark on your college journey. One protection that applies on the national level is Title IX.
First off, what exactly is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal law first enacted in 1972. In short, it prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs or activities that are federally funded, including colleges and universities.
Forty years post-enactment, it’s been credited with expanding educational opportunities and ensuring that more students are able to utilize their merit as part of greater society. Title IX has increased college enrollment among a diverse set of students and has made athletic programs more accessible.
What is a Title IX coordinator?
Title IX requires educational organizations receiving federal funds to hire what’s known as a Title IX coordinator. These individuals are responsible for letting students know about their protections under the law, providing students with and overseeing grievance forms, scheduling hearings for grievances, moderating these hearings, and otherwise managing grievance training and procedures.
Title IX and campus sexual assault
The protections offered through Title IX include instances of sexual violence and sexual harassment. Unsolicited sexual conduct verbal, nonverbal, and physical falls under the anti-sex discrimination law. Sexual violence and sexual harassment lend to a hostile learning environment, and schools are required to mitigate their effect to minimize this hostility.
Sexual assault is, unfortunately, another part of the college experience for many students. Did you know?
- 13% of all college students are raped or sexually assaulted.
- 1 in 4 female undergraduate students are sexually assaulted.
- 23% of TGQN (transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming) college students are sexually assaulted.
- Sexual assault rates are highest at the beginning of the academic year, with over 50% of college sexual assaults occurring between August and November.
With this in mind, it’s super important to be aware of the resources available to you and your peers in the event that sexual assault or sexual harassment happen. Reporting incidents of sexual misconduct can be scary – we know this all too well. Please know that you’re not alone, and that we’re here to help!
How do you file a Title IX report?
Contact your Title IX office or coordinator to file a report. Your Title IX coordinator should be familiar with the ins and outs of Title IX, and can act as a valuable resource when dealing with sex discrimination (including sexual assault or harassment) on campus. If you have a complaint along these lines, you should report it to your school’s Title IX coordinator, who will process your complaint and protect your privacy to the best of their ability in the process.
This is important: If you don’t feel like your complaint has been handled fairly or adequately, you can file a report with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
What happens after a Title IX report is filed?
A few things happen as part of Title IX procedures, and you’ll want to make sure you know what they are to avoid any surprises. First, let’s go into your rights.
As the person filing a complaint, you’re given the right to a full, genuine, bias-free investigation of the complaints you’ve filed, as well an opportunity to submit witnesses and other evidence. You’re also given the right to know about several timelines, including (a) how long the school’s investigation will take, (b) when the complaint will be resolved, and (c) when you can file an appeal, if applicable.
You should get status updates for the complaint as they happen. It’s important to note that the people on both ends have to be informed of the complaint itself and the complaint’s outcome, which impacts the disclosure of certain information.
If your school determines that sexual assault or harassment occurred, a few measures may be taken. For instance, the person(s) who caused you harm may be prohibited from contacting you, be suspended from attending classes, or be transferred to another class or residence hall. Sometimes, more informal procedures such as mediation may be used to address your complaint if they determine it to be harassment over violence.
You should be informed of and decide whether to use your right to stop informal procedures and begin the formal phase. Additional actions may include criminal prosecution and civil litigation.
Additional resources for college students
To make your college experience as safe and enjoyable as possible, get to know your school’s Title IX coordinator and Title IX office. Info should be available on your school’s website.
To learn more about Title IX itself, head over to Know Your IX. There, you’ll find sharper details as to your rights under the law and the requirements of your college or university.
If you’ve experienced sexual violence or sexual harassment, the team at Leda Health is always here for you. Learn more about our Healing Circles, where survivors come together to explore holistic healing at any point after their experience.