Most on this campus probably saw the article published by the National Catholic Reporter last week on the university’s alleged disdain for Title IX. Those people probably saw the distasteful and unconstructive tirades that took over social media afterwards, especially the problematic “Frannies Talk to Each Other” Facebook group.
In the midst of all the barbs slung by current students and alumni alike, both sides showed their extremes, and it seemed as if people believed that taunting or mocking the other side would yield any result, which it didn’t, of course.
Once everyone cools down—hopefully by the time this goes to print—maybe people can begin looking at the issue more objectively because there’s a great deal there to be discussed.
I would just like to begin by saying that I feel it is unfortunate that we have to have Title IX in the first place. Sexual discrimination should not be occurring in the halls of academia, and it is unfortunate that Title IX had to be put in place in order to combat that. Schools shouldn’t need the federal government to create a law requiring them to have a process in place to deal with sexual assault or harassment. That should be common sense.
In any case, Title IX has become a part of the college experience, and the privileges that come with it are often called on in these unfortunate circumstances. But with great privilege comes great responsibility, and this is where the problem with Title IX begins.
Title IX serves its purpose when legitimate allegations of sexual assault or harassment go through due process and the corresponding judgment is passed, first by law enforcement and then by the university. Title IX does not serve its purpose when trivial matters are processed and question the legitimacy of the whole system.
Before everyone gets bent out o fshape, there is a fine line between legitimate and trivial IX claims. If a girl goes to an alcoholic party and comes away claiming that she was sexually assaulted, that’s a legitimate claim and should be investigated. However, someone trying to kick a couple out of a common room by filing a PDA report is trivializing Title IX and what it stands for. That’s not a hypothetical incident, or an isolated one at that.
Abusing the system and trivializing it creates skepticism for administrators when approached with situations, so if people want to ensure that their reports are being taken seriously, they need to stop the people doing that.
Of course, it would appear from the allegations presented in the article and elsewhere that there is a great deal of responsibility to be taken by members of the administration. However, the university’s response to victims is not the only area that needs to be revamped.
My colleague Jeremiah Poff, who writes for The College Fix, has covered incident after incident at universities across the country where the privileges of Title IX were abused and allowed untrue accusations to run rampant and ruin the reputations and lives of many unjustly accused students. Some accused students have not faced due process, had their defense withheld or been expelled on the words of the accuser despite being cleared of a crime by a judicial court.
This is a problem because it undermines everything that Title IX advocates for: a fair treatment of individuals, regardless of their sex. It’s a sign of a system which is broken both ways. Whether on the part of the people filing petty and trivial reports to “get back” at someone or the administration failing to take due process on the part of both the accuser and the accused, it is clear that there is reform that is desperately needed.
Following the social media rampage, the university’s Title IX team sent out an email affirming its dedication to the program and the help it offers for victims. Moving forward, however, more must be done to ensure that the system works as it is supposed to.
For starters, students who make false Title IX should be punished. How, I’m not sure, but reckless use of Title IX must be curtailed. Secondly, the required Title IX video we’re supposed to watch is ignored and of no help. The only way I can think to remedy that is to have mandatory sessions that people must attend in person during the first week of classes to ensure that the content is being received. Third, the university should not punish an individual if the student has been cleared by law. Punishing him or her after acquittal goes against being innocent until proven guilty, which leads to a witch hunt more often than not.
I don’t know if any of these changes have a chance at being implemented, but it is clear that the current Title IX is not working. All parts of the process are at fault, not just a specific person, and everyone has to grow up in order for Title IX to play the role it is meant to.