This fall, new Title IX changes are being implemented throughout the nation. These are affecting K-12 centers as well as colleges and universities.
Title IX is a law that was created in 1972 that states that all people in an educational setting must be treated fairly. It protects them against discrimination based on sex or gender in the United States. This spring, new regulations are changing the way the law is being interpreted and enforced.
One of the goals of the new regulations is to give both the complainants and respondents fair treatment and due process in sexual harassment cases while protecting victims. With this in mind, the definition of sexual harassment has changed, and there are more options on the standard of evidence. The regulations now include phrasing such as “unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would determine is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity.”
With a more subjective take on the definition, Jake Burns, the program coordinator for Florida International University’s Dean of Students Office, wants students and staff to know that no matter what, anyone can report. He says FIU will take complaints seriously and give the resources needed to help. “I don’t think anyone is or should be discouraged by the current definition. If a person is victimized the university wants to know about it and a person should report it.”
According to FIU’s Title IX Coordinator, Shirlyon McWhorter, the university will continue to use the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard. She said most state schools in Florida will be sticking to this measure. She added that private universities and colleges outside of Florida may use the new standard, which is harder to prove.
Students can report in-person to an FIU professional employee, to the Title IX office, online by submitting a reporting form, and in many other ways. Professional staff and responsible employees are considered mandatory reporters and are required to report cases to either the Title IX Coordinator or their superiors, who have to report it. There is also the Ethical Panther Reporting Line 1-844-312-5358, which allows students to give anonymous complaints.