Panel of university personnel discuss gender equity, relationship violence
May 4, 2017
The Title IX and EEO Office says that Betsy DeVos will not deter their efforts toward gender equity.
At panel discussion last week on demystifying Title IX policies and procedures, the starting point of the discussion was a low, all-female student turnout. Around ten students and a handful of faculty and staff members sat in Graham Commons on April 25 for the discussion.
“We are making sure to get voices heard,” said Jenn Recupero, the university’s Title IX investigator. “We are always wanting to know and understand a little bit more about the kind of groups who need to know this information.”
Four panelists led this discussion, addressing various issues surrounding sexual assault and how the issues can be improved on campus. The event, led by the Violence Prevention Program (VPP) and other on-campus entities, concluded April’s on-campus Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) programming.
In addition to Recupero, other panelists included Associate Dean for Student Life Matthew Duncan, Assistant Watch Commander at Campus Safety Services Lavonne Baker and Women and Gender Studies Professor Laura Ellingson.
Title IX amended the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the Vocational Education Act of 1963, among others. It was passed in 1972, initially focused on gender equity in sports activities within federally funded programs. Since then, it has expanded to include effective responses to sexual assault instances, with additions made to the amendment in 2001.
Title IX issues include anything under the umbrella of gender or sexual-based misconduct, harassment or discrimination. This broad umbrella includes stalking, relationship or intimate partner violence.
“There’s a lot of fear, I think, around what they might do to you at the Title IX office,” Ellingson said. “So I spend a lot of time informally trying to demystify and encourage people to use it.”
Panelists broached the topic of how to further involve men in the dialogue about sexual assault. A program named Men in Progress was started by faculty and staff to facilitate conversation around why men are not more involved in the efforts to combat sexual assault.
One point of contention during the conversation had to do with involving fraternities in conversations about sexual assault. Because Santa Clara Greek organizations are unaffiliated with the campus, no university representative can speak with fraternities as organizations outside of campus.
Panelists also discussed some of the potential changes to Title IX proposed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and how they could affect campus policies.
In 2011, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) sent a letter to university officials telling them they need to use standard of “preponderance of the evidence” when they determine whether or not a sexual assault occurred. This standard is lower than the previous threshold that deemed the evidence must be “clear and convincing,” which many universities used in the past, according to the Washington Post.
When asked whether or not she would uphold these standards during her confirmation hearing, DeVoss said it was “premature” of her to answer the question.
Recupero said that she does not think that any possible changes should be considered until legislation concerning title IX is officially passed. She and Ellingson agreed that the university has made strides in addressing Title IX issues and they will not let potential political action affect how Title IX issues are handled on campus.
In light of Yeardley Love’s murder in 2010, Duncan and Recupero said they have made it a priority to educate athletes as well as the entire student body on identifying emerging issues within relationships.
The One Love Foundation was created after Love, a University of Virginia women’s lacrosse player, was murdered by an abusive boyfriend despite her friends noticing warning signs and red flags. The One Love Foundation chapter on campus provides training sessions on identifying the warning signs of abuse.
One recent development discussed was the partnership between the Office of Student Life and the Title IX Office, who are working together to identify the university’s gender climate and create a National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) program called the Culture of Respect.
NASPA, the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, is an association that prioritizes the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession.
“The goal of this culture of respect is to actually have a robust evaluation of the programs we currently are and are potentially not doing, as well as evaluating what our policies look like and how people are understanding the culture of what our campus is representing,” Recupero said.
This is a two-year program that the Title IX Office began implementing this school year.
“As a Jesuit institution, that is very important to us, to foster and engage in reflection and open dialogue,” Duncan said. “I think so many times we are responding to the violence prevention side, which is important, but we can lose sight of how to come at it from a different direction.”
The Title IX Office is located at 900 Lafayette in Suite 100 on the corner of Lafayette and Homestead.
Contact Meghan McLaughlin at firstname.lastname@example.org.