Title IX is a federal civil rights law and ensures that no person on the basis of sex or gender is discriminated against. Every public and private institution who receives federal funding must designate one person to serve as Title IX coordinator.
Title IX regulations at the federal level are often influenced by presidential administrations. The Biden administration is working towards releasing new Title IX guidance which would impact our policy once finalized.
If approved, this would alter the regulations under the Trump administration, which requires more proof for sexual assault and misconduct, released schools from investigating incidents that occur off campus and bolstered the rights of those accused.
According to the Albion College Title IX policy, members of the Albion College community have the right to be free from all forms of discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment, which impede the realization of the college’s mission as an undergraduate, liberal arts institution committed to academic excellence.
Kelly Finn, assistant dean of student development and the college’s Title IX coordinator, oversees all Title IX complaints. Finn responds to cases of sexual assault, sexual harrasment, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking.
Some students will report incidents to Campus Safety, and if they fall under the Title IX umbrella, Campus Safety will refer the students to Finn where she would begin the Title IX process.
Students can also report incidents by emailing Finn directly or completing an online Title IX report form. Students can also speak with confidential Sexual Assault Advocates (SAAs) who will explain the reporting process and options for reporting.
Once Finn receives a complaint, she reaches out to converse with the impacted student, which is optional for the student. This is to figure out how to support that student, even if they do not decide to continue with the Title IX process.
Finn also refers students to the Anna Howard Shaw Center for Gender Equity for resources such as assisting victims and survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Finn expresses the importance of paying close attention to the students who are bringing things forward to her to remedy the behavior through the different pathways Title IX has to offer.
“It is important to understand that I can’t speak about confidential matters related to specific students,” Finn said. “If no one is aware that I’m working with a student on a case it doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. I am not the sole decider about how and when we move forward. Much is about what feels right to the student and how they feel about the process itself as we get into the details of the case. Our ultimate goal is to get to the truth for all involved.”
In 2019, Albion College made efforts to broaden campus and community engagement, reduce sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking and reach effective intervention through the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) grant.
The grant’s strategic plan will carry out the three overarching program goals through efforts in five areas: a coordinated community response team, comprehensive prevention, student conduct, law enforcement and victim services.
According to the Albion College Strategic Plan for Violence Prevention and Response, as of the fall of 2017, 8% of students had reported a disability to the Office of Disability Services, but the actual percentage is undoubtedly higher.
Sexual assault reports have also doubled over the past three years from seven in 2015 to 14 in 2017. Relationship violence and sexual assault incident charges increased from five in 2016-17 to 10 in 2017-18. These are just a few statistics that affect the college campus.
Generally, Campus Safety receives between 100 and 120 reported crimes on campus every year, and ranges from theft to assault to larceny, according to Ken Snyder, the director of Campus Safety and associate dean of students, with reportedly more marijuana complaints than alcohol complaints over the years.
Snyder has also reported somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 reports on mental health and suicide attempts in the Fall 2021 semester, a significant increase since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There have also been an increase in no contact orders, but they are not always based on relationships, according to Snyder. Snyder also states that the reduced number of Title IX complaints to Campus Safety are probably due to the pandemic.
Though the numbers of Title IX complaints have declined over the last two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has recently been a slight increase in reports through the multiple Title IX reporting options.
Finn explains that although there is a slight increase in reports, we cannot say that it necessarily comes from an increase in policy violations, but perhaps rather a comfortability to come forward with sensitive cases.
“The two staff members that are (at the Center for Gender Equity) do an incredible job in supporting students, victims of trauma, and I believe that more support on the front end and throughout the process through their office has likely resulted in more people feeling comfortable coming forward,” said Finn. “The staff members there are confidential resources and so they’re able to really talk to students and support them in a different way than I can because my obligation is to follow up with the right support for students while managing our Title IX process and following our policy.”
Finn and the Title IX team participate in annual training on Title IX process, investigation and decision-making. She is also a part of a network called the Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA), an association for Title IX, where she also attends training. Frequent training, specifically working through a trauma-informed lens, is a priority for Finn and her team to continue improving the college’s process.
Campus Safety employees can be part-time or full-time employees and are trained to be a good witness, according to Snyder. Employees often come with training from their former jobs, such as firefighters, detectives, police or emergency medical technicians. Full-time employees handle more serious situations, such as CPR. Snyder states that he is looking at more online options to facilitate training.
The following are the multiple options to report Title IX complaints:
-Report directly to the Title IX Coordinator by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
-Fill out the online Title IX Report Form
-Talk to a mandatory reporter, which include most faculty, staff, and Community Assistants (CAs)
-Sexual Assault Advocates can explain the reporting process and options for reporting before you decide whether you would like to report to Title IX
Campus Resources for Student Safety:
-Counseling Services at 517-629-0236
-Campus Safety at 517-629-1234
-Student Development at 517-629-0750
Non-Campus Resources for Student Safety:
-National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233
-National Grad Crisis Line at 877-472-3457
-National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673
-National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255
-National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Options for Deaf and Hard of Hearing)
-For TTY Users: Use your preferred relay service, or
-Dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255
-Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 800-662-4357