What is Title IX?
Title IX states that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
While the Roman numerals and long explanation might be intimidating, a closer look at Title IX shows how straightforward and impactful the law really is.
Established as a section of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding, providing everyone with equal access to any educational program or activity.
Examples of sex-based discrimination on a college campus include: unequal resources or facilities for school groups, clubs or athletic teams and tolerating harassment from faculty, staff or students, just to name a few.
If sex-based discrimination occurs on a school’s campus, Title IX requires the school to respond to complaints and take steps to prevent further discrimination. Schools are also required to have a designated Title IX office.
The university’s Title IX office, located in Hullihen Hall, is run by the Interim Director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion and Title IX Coordinator, Danica Myers.
Myers, a former dean of students saw an opportunity for civil rights and equity in higher education. Now at the university, Myers oversees what she calls a “living law.”
“We consider it sort of that ‘living law’ because the understanding of on the basis of sex has really been the development of what Title IX is,” Myers said. “What is discrimination on the basis of sex has sort of evolved as the law has gone through court cases, through guidance that’s come from the federal government and then through institutional and best practices from universities and colleges across the nation.”
Here on campus, Title IX responses follow the Sexual Misconduct Policy, which provides all of the protections allotted by Title IX and any related laws such as Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). With contributing laws comes the inclusion of protections against sex-based discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating/domestic violence, stalking and a new addition, sexual exploitation.
The Sexual Misconduct Policy also lays out what happens if the university receives reports of a Title IX violation, how the university should provide resources, outreach and how to offer reporting options. Investigations can also be opened as part of the office’s resolution process.
For victims of sex discrimination or any form of sexual harassment, assault or domestic violence, knowing what to do is often challenging.
“When in doubt, reach out,” Myers said. “When you feel you’ve had your power taken away, I think I do everything I can to try to give that back to someone.”
Remembering that these situations of discrimination and sexual misconduct are very personal and real is another important aspect of Title IX.
“I think it really helps to humanize this process,” Myers said. “I’d rather people say, I’m going to reach out and talk to Danica and ask her a question as opposed to a Roman numeral title, because I think that’s a little bit not personal enough and this couldn’t be more personal to the people who are experiencing these things.”