Title IX panel promotes sexual assault awareness on campus


The Title IX law, passed in 1972, holds schools responsible for addressing any type of harassment or discrimination based on gender on campuses, whether it’s from peers, teachers or other school officials.

The Student Government Association (SGA) held a Title IX panel to raise awareness and promote the conversation about sexual assault on our campus on Oct. 20. The panel was included as part of SGA’s public forum held in the Mabee ballroom.

Andy Lemons, the director of Campus Recreation; Steven Pinkenburg, associate dean of students; Jackie Schicker, external affairs director for SGA; and Raneem Ashrawi, news editor of Hilltop Views, sat on the panel, which focused on the sexual assault area of Title IX.

The Title IX law, passed in 1972, holds schools responsible for addressing any type of harassment or discrimination based on gender on campuses, whether it’s from peers, teachers or other school officials.

The panel and SGA also introduced the St. Edward’s University branch of “It’s On Us,” a national campaign to prevent sexual assault on college campuses.

After showing a video from the University of Victoria entitled “Let’s Get Consensual,” featuring male college students explaining all that goes into giving consent, the panel discussed how to tie the issue back to St. Edward’s.

“One of the most important things a student can learn is how to have a difficult conversation. You need to know your rights and limits, and part of this is having that difficult conversation,” Lemons said.

The panel also talked about the importance of teaching incoming students how to prevent and understand the risks of sexual assault on our campus. The fall semester of a student’s freshman year is known as the “red zone,” a time period in which students are more susceptible to being victims of sexual assault as a result of the change of environment and lack of familial support, as they’re often living away from home for the first time in their lives.

Under Title IX, sexual assault is the unwanted or unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that interferes with a student’s ability to learn, study, work or participate in school activities. All public and private schools, school districts, colleges and universities receiving federal funds are legally responsible for complying with Title IX and addressing these issues.

Sexual harassment can range from unwanted behavior including touching, pinching, grabbing body parts, sending sexual notes or pictures, suggestive gestures or looks, verbal comments, and removing clothing to sexual assault and rape.

“Title IX specifically deals with sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating and domestic violence, stalking and hate crimes based on sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender orientation,” Pinkenburg said.

As part of the Dean of Students Title IX team, Pinkenburg trains student leaders and faculty on campus on how to comply with Title IX. Those wishing to have their own organizations trained under Title IX are encouraged to reach out to the Dean of Students office.

“If something is reported to us, the university has a duty, even if the person says ‘I don’t want you to do anything,’ we’ve got a duty to look into it and to investigate it because we’ve got to make sure that our students are safe,” Pinkenburg said.

Mandatory reporters on campus include any employee of the university and all resident assistants on campus. Mandatory reporting means that if employees are aware of any assault on campus, they must look further into it and report it to their boss, while protecting the student’s confidentiality.

The only university employees who are not mandatory reporters are those at the Health and Counseling Center, where information students disclose becomes part of their closed medical record.

“This last year for freshmen we implemented a sexual harassment training module online that we had all students go and complete,” Pinkenberg said. The program is called Haven and is given to freshmen in orientation alongside AlcoholEdu.

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