Abigail Roberts | The Echo
This coming Monday, Dec. 3 Taylor is holding its first informational session for students on Title IX.
In light of a growing social movement around campus sexual assault, gender identity and discrimination, universities are focusing and spending more time on Title IX training and resources.
All Taylor University staff, professors and employees were required to undergo an hour-long Title IX training the week of Nov. 12. In the last Title IX training three years ago, attendance was encouraged, but not required.
"Campus safety is a critical piece of our community," Title IX Coordinator Jesse Brown said. "Having an environment that responds to instances of sexual assault or harassment is very important to us."
Title IX was originally enacted as federal law in 1972. It's rules and regulations prevented gender discrimination in college athletics, as the NCAA at the time held no scholarships and no national championships for women's teams.
Today, Title IX, as a federal civil rights law, forbids a university's discrimination on the basis of sex in programs and activities. Sexual harassment, including sexual violence, is also prohibited by Title IX.
"It's a way of thinking about consent differently, what does consent look like?" Special Assistant to the President Ron Sutherland said. "It is not only employee to employee, but student to student, when thinking of Title IX."
Respecting Title IX can look like taking little steps such as uncovering office windows that are blocked or asking questions that ensure students feel safe such as, "Would you like the door open or closed?"
In addition, many Taylor classes include personal journal entries. How should professors respond to Title IX cases discussed in written journal responses? Title IX training seeks to answer those questions. It also teaches professors how to ensure safe environments while hosting students in their homes or traveling with students.
"It's important for individuals on campuses, both men and women, to know what laws pertain to them," sophomore Kassidy Hall, PA in Swallow Robin Hall said. "Yes, Title IX applies to issues such as rape, but it is also enforced over jokes and teasing about another person's gender. The root goal . . . is to create an environment where someone's gender is not to be taken advantage of."
All Personnel Assistants (PA) and athletes also undergo short versions of Title IX training, focused primarily on how to react when students share cases with them and who to take cases to.
Although senior Madigan McKeough, a PA in Bergwal Hall believes Taylor does a good job informing student leaders and athletes about Title IX, she, junior Kylee Sosa and other PAs on campus agree increased training and work on Title IX needs to be done for both PAs and students.
"You'd think people in leadership would get more training on that matter," Sosa said. "We were given the gist of things, but more could go into it. I definitely think what they're doing now is good . . . but I wish it had started a long time ago."
Additional training is also needed in how, when and where to report Title IX cases.
McKeough pointed out the difficulty students find in reporting their cases to the University.
"Taylor needs to make it clear if (sexual assault) under Title IX would happen and the LTC is broken in some way . . . the student wouldn't get in trouble for (breaking the LTC)," McKeough said. "The LTC is made to protect students, but so many people don't report (sexual assault) because of it."
Taylor has a long history of anti-harassment training that stems not only from legal mandates, but Biblical ones as well.
Taylor's perspective on Title IX is based on their biblical conviction that all humans are created in God's image and are therefore of immeasurable value and worthy of protection. This view can be clearly found in Taylor's Life Together Covenant's outlined values of respecting, caring for and building up one another.
"I wish we lived in a world where (Title IX training) wasn't necessary," Sutherland said. "But the reality is the challenge of the human condition requires us to be as mindful and thoughtful as we can . . . there will always be a new part of the conversation to be thinking through."
According to Brown, Taylor takes every allegation seriously and thoughtfully and does its best to facilitate a timely and equitable investigation and response. Faculty can share Title IX concerns with their academic dean or with Brown. Students are encouraged to reach out or report to both on and off-campus resources such as those listed in the box below.
Taylor 's Title IX training on Dec. 10 will be held 4-5 p.m. in the Garage Room. Title IX officers are continuing to work on different program-related topics. Taylor will be offering online training materials as well as a second training session for faculty in the spring.