Title IX In Context: Practices At Private Universities

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If a student at California Lutheran University wants to report a sexual crime directly to the Title IX coordinator, they must go to the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center (GSFC).

Jim McHugh, Cal Lutheran’s Title IX coordinator, has an office covered with U.S. Navy stickers on the windows beside the front door. McHugh’s office has Cal Lutheran athletic photos, team photos, navy photos and navy decor. It has football helmets that surround the room and sit directly behind McHugh’s chair where students go to report a sexual crime.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in five women are sexually assaulted while in college. In 2015, there were six reported cases of sexual misconduct or assault at Cal Lutheran.

According to Cal Lutheran’s crime log, there were three Title IX violations in 2016 including two reports of rape and one incident of sexual battery.

As of now in 2017, there have been two Title IX violations including one rape and one incident of stalking.

Molly George, associate professor of criminal justice and sociology, said there have been efforts by faculty and staff to collaborate with the current Title IX coordinator and investigators to clarify and strengthen Cal Lutheran’s policies, programs and procedures regarding cases of alleged sexual misconduct.

Every college campus is encouraged to hire a Title IX coordinator.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Title IX coordinator has the most responsibility when dealing with Title IX compliance, development and implementation.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in educational programs and also addresses sexual assault and sexual harassment as it relates to students, faculty and staff.

Compared to other universities such as Azusa Pacific University and Gonzaga University, Cal Lutheran takes a different approach when dealing with sexual violence on campus.

Cal Lutheran uses a single decision-maker model meaning that McHugh is the sole decider on Title IX cases. McHugh said he has been the Title IX coordinator for about two and a half years. Prior to his appointed position as coordinator, McHugh was Cal Lutheran’s associate vice president for Athletic Affairs.

McHugh said that his background in the Navy for 26 years gives him the ability to manage sensitive topics such as sexual assault. He said he commanded a base and dealt with secret information including matters such as sexual assault.

Stephanie Whaley, Gonzaga University’s Title IX Coordinator, said they uses a more checks and balance type model where she decides after an investigative team has done their job if there is sufficient amount of evidence to warrant an investigation. She then moves it on to the office of community standards.

Prior to being the Title IX coordinator, Whaley said she was a Title IX investigator for the University of Alaska for three years and worked for Residence Life, which also dealt with sexual misconduct.

One of the Title IX Coordinators at Azusa Pacific University, Christie Guzman, was a critical social worker with clinical experience for 20 years before being appointed as Title IX coordinator September 2016. She also worked in higher education for 13 years which she said has prepared her for dealing with sensitive cases like those of Title IX.

The investigative process at Cal Lutheran also differs from the other two universities. According to McHugh, when a student comes and reports a case of sexual misconduct and he has decided that it is a Title IX issue, only one investigator is assigned to the student’s case.

“While there is only one investigator per case, the first person that meets with a student wanting to file a complaint is the person giving resources, support and providing them with reporting options,” Chris Paul, director of Cal Lutheran Residence Life and assistant dean of students, said in a follow up email.

“I believe that expanding the number of investigators and decision-makers on each case is a great idea. There is concern that when administrators are the only ones involved in investigating and adjudicating sexual assault cases, there may be a conflict of interest where they may feel torn between protecting the university and its reputation, and supporting potential victims,” George said.

Both Whaley and Guzman said that Gonzaga and Azusa Pacific have two investigators assigned to each case. Azusa Pacific has one female and one male investigator assigned to each case.

According to Paul, Cal Lutheran has only one investigator assigned to each case because unlike Gonzaga and Azusa Pacific, the investigators at Cal Lutheran are also full-time staff members and the investigation is in addition to that full-time load.

“I prefer two investigators, particularly for sexual assault cases. It adds more integrity to the investigation. Sometimes one investigator picks up on something that the other one doesn’t,” Whaley said.

When a student wants to report a case of sexual misconduct at Cal Lutheran, they can report to a faculty member, professor or a Residence Life employee who are all mandated reporters, or they can go to the Title IX office and report to the coordinator directly.

Whaley said that the Title IX office at Gonzaga resides in the office of Equity and Inclusion which is housed under the vice president of Human Resources office. Her investigators are also placed within the Student Development building.

McHugh said that he would give the student the Cal Lutheran’s resource packet and go into detail what resources are available to the student if a student reports a sexual crime at the Title IX office located in the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center.

Within the resource packet there are classifications of sexual offenses which include sexual assault, sexual violence, sexual harassment, stalking, domestic violence and dating violence.

McHugh was unable to clarify sexual assault classifications without referencing the resource manual.

“I’d have to look up the specifics. I don’t have them all memorized off the top of my head,” McHugh said,  who then referred to a resource packet and asked, “Is that [fondling] listed in here?”

McHugh went into detail of what happens after the case has been investigated, and it has been found that there was a Title IX violation.

Like Gonzaga and Azusa Pacific, McHugh said that Cal Lutheran cases go through the disciplinary sanctions. He said that it depends on the severity of the action but they make sure they do the best they can in helping out the reporting party and meeting their requests or needs.

McHugh said these sanctions vary from detainment to even expulsion depending on specific factors.

“It depends on the situation. It could be they are expelled from school. It depends on what the findings are during the investigation. I’m not going to get pinned down on saying if someone rapes someone this is what is going to happen. Suspension is even an option,” McHugh said.

To help minimize the amount of sexual violence cases on college campuses, there are preventative ways to inform students on sexual assault.

At Cal Lutheran, McHugh said that at student orientation all incoming students attend a program that addresses sexual assault and what it means. They are also given a flyer which includes information including where to go and who to talk to if a situation was to occur.

Cal Lutheran, Azusa Pacific, and Gonzaga provide similar resources to educate their community on their options. They all have a two-hour online training for all incoming students at New Student Orientation. This online training informs students of bystander intervention, Title IX options and prevention steps.

Professors are mandatory reporters, students can report to student counseling, campus ministry or health services (if there are no injuries resulted from the sexual crime) if they want their case to be kept confidential.

To know what steps to take or what resources Cal Lutheran provides, information can be found at https://www.callutheran.edu/title-ix/. Once on the website, there is a box highlighted in green, titled, “SEXUAL VIOLENCE RESOURCE PACKET.” Under the title one can click on the “For students (PDF),” and they will be directed to a link that provides students with their resource packet. Police involvement is also always an option.

“I am hopeful that by increasing awareness of our Title IX process and by collectively working to improve it, we will strengthen our institutional effort to prevent sexual violence, to handle cases effectively and compassionately, and to ensure a safe and supportive campus for all,” George said.

Maryssa Rillo
Staff Writer

Updated: May 11, 2017