"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.” – Title IX (20 U.S.C. § 1681(a).)
In a few short months, students all over the US will begin their freshman year of college. The first six weeks of college is an exciting time full of new friends, freedom and the reality of buying books.
Attending college also brings the reality of sexual assault to the front of many students’ minds.
The beginning of the of a freshman’s first semester is also known as the “red zone.”
“The “red zone” is shorthand for the time at the beginning of the school year when a disproportionate number of campus sexual assaults take place.” – Redden, The Guardian
My freshman year, my university required me to attend bystander intervention class, learn how much “one drink” is and take basic sex ed.
These classes did not prepare me for watching my peers cope with sexual assault.
To their credit, I’m not sure anything would have.
Mandatory coursework and other university programs exist as an attempt to comply with Title IX.
Title IX is a part of American federal civil rights law. Established in 1972, Title IX promises equality among the sexes in education programs that receive federal funding.
Initially, Title IX became famous for equitable funding for female athletics. If you look at programs offered at your high school or university, you will find equitable funding between male and female sports.
It takes a lot of female athletes to make up for the money poured into the football complex.
Between 2011 and 2013 women at Yale, Amherst College and UNC-Chapel Hill filled Title IX complaints.
This was the first time that sexual assault was applied to Title IX.
In the past 7 years, this application of Title IX has shaped college campus’ and them polices.
I used to believe that Title IX existed to protect my peers and I.
I was wrong.
Every university must have a Title IX Coordinator.
That does not mean that person has the funding and ability to execute their work fully.
That does not mean that the people who are investigating the claims are qualified to do so.
Every university employee is REQUIRED to report sexual assault and harassment.
That does not mean that does not mean that universities have more accurate data about the number of assaults on campus.
That does not mean that reporting sexual assault is the best choice for every survivor. Forcing them to do so if they seek help from a university official only protects the university.
Every university will sell incoming freshman on their “safe learning environment.”
That does not mean that they will provide you reasonable accommodation even when the law calls for it.
Not every system is 100% broken.
I love my campus and the amazing people who work to support our students. I am proud to be a Coug.
Our system isn’t perfect. Not even close. I know that it has failed students and will most likely continue to do so.
To all the incoming freshman…
I hope you have the time of your life at college. You deserve to have the safe college experience you were promised.