Student Affairs, Administration update Title IX policy

By on September 26, 2012

This past summer, members of Student Affairs created new and improved rules regarding Title IX. Contrary to popular belief, Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination, does not only apply to situations on the playing field.

Despite a recent ruling by the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which stated competitive cheerleading was not a sport nor an emerging sport, Title IX can be applied to other situations including admissions, financial aid, health services and advising.

The new policy labels misconduct into seven categories: sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, nonconsensual sexual contact, nonconsensual sexual intercourse, sexual exploitation, stalking, and intimate partner violence.

The redefined Title IX includes two parts, according to Seann Kalagher, assistant dean of Student Affairs.

“One is the actual definition of the behaviors and what the policies are prohibiting,” Kalagher said. “The second part applies to everybody. It’s an institutional policy so it applies to the students, faculty and staff. The second part of what’s in there is the process of how we investigate and adjudicate incidents that relate to students.”

The university has been working on getting more of the Quinnipiac community involved in this process, explaining that the newly constructed policy doesn’t only apply to students.

“This is something, not just we’ve been doing with students, but it’s also an institutional thing so we’ve been meeting with administrative offices as well [and] departments all around campus,” Kalagher said.

Student Affairs has been giving presentations to faculty groups and brochures available for students. So far these presentations have not been open to students, but that may change based on the amount of student interest. The brochures include definitions on each of the seven categories as well as contact information.

Another new part of the policy divides complaints into three categories. Students with complaints against faculty should contact Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Sarah Steele, and students with complaints against employees should contact Associate Vice President for Human Resources Anna Spragg. Complaints against students, visitors or third-parties should go to Kalagher.

The second part of the new process discusses how complaints are investigated.

“[W]e have a process in place for investigating and making decisions about those types of situations, and what the outcome of those will be for the students involved,” Kalagher said. “It’s something we will be more explicit and detailed about than in the past.”

Approximately one year ago, the United States Department of Education released new guidelines to colleges and universities in terms of what their expectations were.

The Department of Education’s new guidelines state that both the complainant and the accused student(s) must be treated equally throughout the entirety of the investigation. In addition, all parties have the right to attend hearings, have access to the results of the investigation and hearings, and file an appeal.

“When we received that information, we reviewed it, and we decided that in order to comply with what they’re looking for, we needed to make some changes on our end, so we spent a lot of time working on that,” Kalagher said.

With all the changes and updates, Kalagher said he hopes that students will recognize all of the resources available to them.

“I think if there’s something that we’re trying to get across to students it’s that if there are situations that students experience, that we do have resources here available on campus that can help them,” Kalagher said.

We have more resources dedicated to this now than we did in the past. We have always provided students with access to health services, counseling services, and campus accommodation, and provided assistance in contacting law enforcement. The major difference is our investigation and grievance procedures are different.”

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