Section: News

Forum held to discuss external Title IX audit

Forum held to discuss external Title IX audit

Shane Canfield

Nearly one year after President Sean Decatur’s announcement that a private firm would perform a comprehensive audit of the College’s Title IX and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) policies, a forum was hosted last Tuesday to discuss the results of the audit with students and the community.

Hosted by the Office of the President and the Office for Civil Rights, the hour-long forum featured a review of the audit’s findings by Civil Rights and Title IX Coordinator Samantha Hughes and a discussion panel featuring members of the audit committee’s, including Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Ted Mason and Vice President for Student Affairs Meredith Bonham ’92. Decatur was also present.

Two new committees have been formed in response to the audit: a small Title IX team that will advise Hughes, and a larger Title IX advisory team that will work on big-picture Title IX-related projects. The advisory team will include two student-held chairs.

The Office of Civil Rights is also working to develop a group of dedicated Title IX advisors for students in accordance with an audit recommendation that advises against counselors in the Cox Health and Counseling Center serving as advisors. This recommendation was made after students reported feeling uncomfortable that their counselors could also serve as an advisor to someone in their Title IX case, according to Hughes.

The Office of Civil Rights is also working on signing a memorandum of understanding with the Knox Community Hospital, which will allow a sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) to be on-call for the Health Center.

Decatur spoke at the end of the forum to remind students that the process of refining the College’s Title IX and VAWA policies is ongoing and dynamic.

“I want to debunk any notion that the audit is an end of the process — that this is a sort of, ‘yay, an audit, now we’re done’ kind of thing,” Decatur said. “I think this is very much the beginning and the early stages of the process, and I’m anticipating that there will be many challenges that come up, and we have to be prepared to work through those challenges.”

Other highlights from the audit and subsequent actions taken by the Office of Civil Rights are available on the College’s website.

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