Things to Know – Wednesday, May 24, 2017

We are counting down to Commencement. This seems like an appropriate time for us to explore the history of academic regalia. As noted on the Colorado State University Commencement website, academic regalia has been around for a long time. I have always been a little grumpy about the colors associated with the disciplines, although it is what it is. If you go to the website below you will find the list.

The origins of academic dress date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, when universities were taking form. The ordinary dress of the scholar, whether student or teacher, was the dress of a cleric.

 Link to Colorado State History of Academic Regalia

Yesterday, we had a bit of excitement with an attempted abduction on the SWC campus. The SWC police department was on top of this immediately, through providing support to the victim and conducting excellent investigatory work to track down potential leads. Thank you.

It also seems like a good time to do a basic primer on Title IX and investigations as I have had questions, and promised to explain more about investigations.

What is Title IX?

Title IX

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces, among other statutes, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. 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.

Scope of Title IX

Title IX applies to institutions that receive federal financial assistance from ED, including state and local educational agencies. These agencies include approximately 16,500 local school districts, 7,000 postsecondary institutions, as well as charter schools, for-profit schools, libraries, and museums. Also included are vocational rehabilitation agencies and education agencies of 50 states, the District of Columbia, and territories and possessions of the United States.

Educational programs and activities that receive ED funds must operate in a nondiscriminatory manner. Some key issue areas in which recipients have Title IX obligations are: recruitment, admissions, and counseling; financial assistance; athletics; sex-based harassment; treatment of pregnant and parenting students; discipline; single-sex education; and employment. Also, a recipient may not retaliate against any person for opposing an unlawful educational practice or policy, or made charges, testified or participated in any complaint action under Title IX. For a recipient to retaliate in any way is considered a violation of Title IX. The ED Title IX regulations  (Volume 34, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 106) provide additional information about the forms of discrimination prohibited by Title IX.

Link to Title IX Website

Based on Title IX, colleges must adhere to the following:

What procedures must a school have in place to prevent sexual violence and resolve complaints?

Answer: The Title IX regulations outline three key procedural requirements. Each school must:

(1)   disseminate a notice of nondiscrimination (see question C-2); 17  

(2)   designate at least one employee to coordinate its efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under Title IX (see questions C-3 to C-4); 18 and

(3)    (3) adopt and publish grievance procedures providing for the prompt and equitable resolution of student and resolution of student and employee sex discrimination complaints (see questions C-5 to C-6).19

When Southwestern College receives a Title IX complaint (or any other complaint) as defined below, it is turned over to an investigator with 48 hours. The current designated Title IX coordinator is the Vice President of Human Resources, until we get our Title IX Director on board. We have hired an outside independent firm to conduct all investigations and a human resources professional to oversee and advise.

1.      Sexual violence, as that term is used in this document and prior OCR guidance, refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (e.g., due to the student’s age or use of drugs or alcohol, or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the student from having the capacity to give consent). A number of different acts fall into the category of sexual violence, including rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion. Sexual violence can be carried out by school employees, other students, or third parties. All such acts of sexual violence are forms of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.

Link to Title IX Requirements

At Southwestern College, Human Resources facilitate Title IX complaints. The complaints are turned over to an investigator within 48 hours of receipt. The complainant is notified their complaint has been received and the investigation process begins. Allegations are either sustained, not sustained, unfounded, sustained in part, or exonerated. Exonerated means a fair preponderance of the evidence established either that:

1.      The act (s) that provided the basis for the complaint occurred; however, the investigations reveals that such act(s) were justified, lawful or proper.

Investigations take usually 60 to 90 days to complete due to multiple interviews, and issues that may arise during the interviews. Once the report is completed, the complainant receives a report noting the results of the investigation. If the allegations are sustained appropriate college personnel take actions commensurate with the severity of the allegations, up to suspending students from school or termination of an employee. These actions are not shared as these are considered personnel actions that are protected due to student and employee privacy rights.

As college employees we have an obligation to provide support to our victims and ensure we assist the victim to appropriate support resources. Both the complainant and the person accused deserve a timely, thorough, unbiased investigation. This demonstrates respect, in an unpleasant situation. Sometimes allegations are not sustained and sometimes they are.

As the SWC College President, I am intentional about having all the facts through a thoughtful, well conducted investigation; we provide support, and we protect student/employee privacy and safety.

When commencing your journey towards justice choose the path that minimizes regret.
Tanya Ward Jordan

Tomorrow we are going to discussed shared leadership…and Leadership Matters.