Discourse / Letters / September 24, 2015

Looking ahead to this year’s Title IX reform

Dear Knox Community,

The last two terms have seen the formation of a campaign intended to reform the way Title IX procedures are handled at Knox College. The campaign aimed to make the Title IX process less confusing and emotionally tiring for sexual violence survivors, and also to make a positive impact on the campus. Although important groundwork was laid last term, this next academic year will see a campaign that is more holistic, inclusive and survivor-centric. We have listened to both positive and negative feedback, and changes will be made to ensure the campaign focuses on recovery and solidarity while still challenging the problems that sexual violence survivors face on our campus.

We have noted that some people are confused about the intent of the campaign. To summarize, the campaign is two-pronged. Firstly, it aims to modify and augment existing sexual assault policies and procedures. We want to emphasize that although some of the policies we have demanded are technically already in place on paper, they are not always put into effect in real life. Thus, our first prong of the campaign is to ensure the Title IX process adheres to current Office of Civil Rights (OCR) guidance and survivor needs. We are working with the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) and nearby rape crisis agencies to continue this effort.

The second prong of the campaign is to promote a culture of consent on campus. For example, we are in the process of creating survivor resource handouts and regular Self-Care days that are easily accessible to all students.

Throughout the past year, we have collaborated with national and regional organizations to make these changes happen, but the fact that our intentions are still unclear to some faculty and students is a huge incentive for us to work even harder at engaging the Knox community.

Although we acknowledge that Knox has begun to address these issues, it is critical that the campaign continue for a variety of reasons: Knox lacks a legally-required Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), students and faculty are often under-informed about mandatory reporting policies and other infringements on the needs of survivors have been documented in previous TKS articles and continue to be relevant.

This summer, seniors Rachael Morrissey and Erica Witzig were invited to attend a Title IX Summit for area schools, including Eureka College, Bradley University, Illinois State University, Illinois Central College and Illinois Wesleyan. Morrissey and Witzig were told that Knox failed to attend nearly all of these Summits.

Such events are deeply valuable and should be attended regularly by Title IX staff at Knox, as through them we were made aware of a host of resources that may be useful to our campus (such as federal grants for sexual assault advocacy training, the Maxient sexual offense tracking system used by nearby colleges and so forth).

Rather than merely changing policies and procedures after students file complaints with the OCR, or just applying temporary remedies, Knox College would do well to mirror other schools and take a preemptive stance in combating sexual assault.

Those in the campaign feel that attendance of Title IX Summits, as well as an increased response to student input, will indicate that Knox College is truly listening to student needs and responding accordingly. We have a right to know that our school is working with us to resolve the problems students continue to report with the Title IX process.

This term, we hope to finalize the projects listed previously, as well as adequately inform students of the Title IX process and mandatory reporting requirements, utilize resources from rape crisis agencies and implement other programs and events that will promote a consent culture at our school. We will also be hosting regular forums for anyone who would like to offer feedback or become involved. This campus belongs to each of us, and, accordingly, each of us deserves to be treated with respect, ensured an atmosphere of safety and consent and informed of our rights under Title IX. Our movement is fueled by a sense of clear purpose and a knowledge that things will continue to change for the better if we move forward together.

In solidarity,

The Title IX Campaign

 

Title IX Campaign

Tags:  letter Office of Civil Rights self-care title ix

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