In May 2014, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights released a list of 55 colleges and universities that are under investigation for the handling of Title IX cases with the promise that the list be continually updated. As of August 30, the number increased to 76 higher education institutions under investigation. While the University of Central Arkansas is not under investigation, the university has taken proactive steps to ensure campus safety and continued adherence to the law. This is a conversation with Kandi Hughes, associate general counsel and compliance officer, who explains the importance of Title IX and how UCA can continue to adhere to the law.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. Title IX protects students, faculty, staff, and visitors to campus. Title IX only applies in cases in which UCA has jurisdiction over at least one of the parties.
What is the role of the Title IX Coordinator?
My responsibility is to ensure that the university has the required policies and procedures in place that provide for prompt and effective processing of complaints, investigations, and enforcement activities. I assist in arranging for training for staff and students and monitor overall compliance with federal and state legislation and regulations. I also have a team of Deputy Title IX Coordinators from across campus who will assist me in conducting investigations and are authorized to receive complaints and hear appeals.
What changes were made to Board Policy 511 regarding Title IX and sexual misconduct?
Title IX, Section 304 of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (“Campus Save Act”) and the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (“Clery Act”) are federal laws that require universities to take various measures to prevent sexual misconduct, such as providing a written policy that addresses sexual misconduct, including, but not limited to sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Developments over the past three years have triggered substantial review and revision of the systematic approaches we utilize to protect students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors from sexual misconduct and to provide victims with appropriate support. Now entitled “Sexual Misconduct”, Board Policy 511 encompasses a broader range of gender-based violence offenses with an extended list of protected categories. The various revisions will ensure the university remains in compliance.
￼”We strive to be proactive in taking a comprehensive approach to investigating, stopping, preventing, and remedying the effects of sexual misconduct on our campus.”
Are students, faculty, and/or staff required to attend trainings on Title IX?
All faculty and staff are required to complete a Title IX online training course. For students, we implemented mandatory online training starting fall 2014. Because of the Campus Save Act, which goes hand-in-hand with Title IX, we will also offer educational programming to the campus that relates to sexual misconduct, which will be more specific and focus on four key areas: awareness, bystander intervention, primary prevention, and risk reduction. Programming will include information about dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
Who is responsible for reporting a suspected Title IX violation?
Under Board Policy 511, all faculty and professional staff are designated as mandatory reporters. It is important to note, however, that we do not require campus mental-health counselors, pastoral counselors, social workers, psychologists, health center employees, or any other person with a professional license requiring confidentiality, or who is supervised by such a person, to report, without the student’s consent, incidents of sexual violence to the school in a way that identifies the student. However, they are required to report such incidents in a way that does not identify the student, but gives the university enough information to attempt to stop, prevent, and remedy the effects of the violation. We also encourage all students to report a suspected violation of Title IX.
To submit a Title IX complaint, what information or documentation is required?
Anyone from within the university may report a violation by contacting me or one of the Deputy Title IX Coordinators directly by phone or email. We need contact information for the complainant and respondent, the location of the incident, and any names/contact information for any witnesses. Submissions can also be made using the Sexual Misconduct Complaint Form located on the university’s website.
Describe the investigation process.
The complainant is contacted within a day or two to schedule a meeting to discuss the complaint. After interviewing the complainant, we would interview the respondent and any possible witnesses. We would make a determination, based upon the preponderance of the evidence, as to whether a violation of Title IX and/or Board Policy 511 has occurred and issue sanction(s) based upon the findings. Either party can appeal to a Hearing Panel made up of other Deputy Title IX Coordinators. This process is the same for a faculty or staff member. Depending on the complexity of the case, the timeline can average from several weeks to several months. We try to conclude an investigation within 30 working days.
What are some possible sanctions if found in violation?
Sanctions may range from requiring additional educational training to termination/expulsion from the university.
What are your goals for campus as it relates to Title IX?
The major goal is to ensure we continue to have a safe campus community. If we remember the spirit in which Title IX and the other laws related to sexual misconduct were created, I think it will be successful in meeting this goal. I also hope that our campus community will continue to rally around and support the amazing changes that are occurring on our campus as it relates to Title IX.