townhallgraphic

Graphic by Anna Lee. 

On Thursday, July 9, Director of University Affairs and Title IX Vice Chair Kita Adams and other student leaders facilitated a Title IX town hall to discuss the changes to Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. The new regulation changes, also known as the final rule, were released by the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education in May. The town hall was split into two parts with a presentation by Associate Vice Provost for Equal Opportunity and Equity and Lead Deputy Title IX Coordinator David Elrod and a Q&A session with panelists representing different university offices related to Title IX protections. 

During the livestream, two counselors from the Counseling Center were available to talk with students in breakout rooms if they felt overwhelmed or experienced negative emotions during the town hall. The town hall will be available to view for students who did not attend the livestream early next week.

Adams said this town hall is the first of two and the next town hall will be solely Q&A format with student questions. The date for the follow-up town hall has not been announced yet. 

Title IX prohibits any discrimination on the basis of sex and the new Title IX regulations concern sexual harassment. The federal government is requiring all universities to implement these new regulations by Aug. 14, according to Elrod. A list of these new regulations can be found here

Elrod said this is the first time a Title IX sexual harassment regulation has been written into law. Previously, only guidance was provided. 

Impacts of new regulation

Changes have been made to NC State’s non-discrimination policy and Code of Student Conduct to assure the language follows specific Title IX regulations, according to Elrod. He did not specify what these changes include during the town hall.

Elrod said the University has created a new Title IX sexual harassment policy that will follow procedures for alleged Title IX violations. The policy is currently awaiting approval. 

Clarifiers under Title IX

Elrod said under the new regulation, incidents without a Title IX designator, an element of a case that qualifies the incident under Title IX, will not fall under Title IX. The University can still address these incidences under other non-discrimination policies, including sexual harassment and NC State Code of Student Conduct. 

To qualify as a Title IX incident, the incident must be “severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive.” Elrod said the language in the previous policy read “severe or pervasive.” 

If an incident does not meet all three elements, then the conduct is not prohibited under Title IX but is likely prohibited under other codes of conduct, according to Elrod. 

Director of the Office of Student Conduct Tom Hardiman said that the new regulation is a starting point and the University can go beyond what Title IX requires and decide what type of conduct is prohibited in our community under other policies. 

Geography specifications in Title IX

Incidents occurring at an off-campus apartment, during a study abroad program in another country or at a program, event or activity not sponsored by the University do not have a Title IX designator. However, they are still applicable to student conduct policy and non-discrimination policy and can be addressed under those provisions, according to Elrod. 

“Even if the behavior is happening off campus, it affects members of our community,” Hardiman said. “That’s still something that we’re going to address and it’s still conduct that we’re going to prohibit as a part of our code.” 

During the Q&A portion of the town hall, Hardiman identified geography as the major indicator of a Title IX designator. In his example, he said that an alleged incidence of nonconsensual sexual intercourse between two NC State students that took place at Wood Hall carries a Title IX designation, but the same incident that took place at Valentine Commons, which is off-campus housing and not a part of a university program or activity, does not fall under Title IX but is still prohibited under NC State’s Code of Student Conduct. 

If either member of a case is a student at a different school or is not affiliated with the University, the case does not have the Title IX designator and would not fall under Title IX. If nonconsensual sexual intercourse between a NC State student and a non-NC State student occurred at Wood Hall, the incident would fall under provisions in the Code of Student Conduct outside of Title IX. 

Filing a Title IX complaint

Under Title IX regulation, a report to the Equal Opportunity and Equity unit of the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity is not a formal complaint; it means that the office will engage with the individual about how they want to move forward. This could mean providing resources or following through with a formal complaint if the incident falls under Title IX, according to Elrod. 

Additionally, the new regulation specifies that a formal complaint must be in writing and be made by the complainant or Title IX coordinator in order for the University to begin preliminary reviews of the incident according to Elrod. 

After receiving a complaint, the University will contact the complainant to attempt to discuss the incident, offer supportive measures and resources and decide how or if the complainant wants to move forward with the report. 

The new regulation uses the term “actual notice” to notify the Title IX coordinator and designated official when a formal complaint has been filed. 

Cross-examination 

Associate Director for Interpersonal Violence Services at the Women’s Center Janine Kossen said that advisers asking questions during cross-examination should be properly trained and trauma informed because answering questions during a live hearing can be an uncomfortable and traumatic process. 

Hardiman said that the cross-examination allows both parties to question evidence, to ask questions to each other or to a witness with relevant information. To make sure that the cross-examination is not a traumatic experience for survivors, Hardiman or another hearing officer will ask as many questions as possible so that it would be repetitive or redundant for another party to ask that question. When parties ask questions, the hearing officer will determine if they are admissible, relevant or need to be reworded. 

Preponderance of the evidence standard

NC State will continue to use a preponderance of the evidence standard in Title IX cases and in other cases regarding discrimination and harassment, according to Elrod. 

Hardiman said that he supports using the preponderance of the evidence standard because the decision-making process rests purely in objective evaluation, whereas the clear and convincing standard infuses subjectivity and a higher burden of proof on one party. 

Additionally, Hardiman said it is the University’s responsibility, not the student’s or the individuals’ involved, to make an argument or to justify a side.

“Students have the opportunity and the right to provide whatever information that they want, to be able to ask questions,” Hardiman said. “But ultimately, the burden of getting that information rests with the University and specifically the decision-maker.”

Transgender student protections

According to Elrod, Title IX policy has covered individuals regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation since 1972. Transgender students are protected according to the language “on the basis of sex” and the University’s’ general harassment policy.

Resources and Support

For a comprehensive list of on campus resources visit the Counseling Center website. 

  • Women's Center 

    • Main Office: 919-515-2012

    • 24-hour Sexual Assault Helpline: 919-515-4444

    • Provides advocacy and support 

  • NC State Police

    • Main Office: 919-515-3000

    • Emergencies: 911 

  • Student Health Services and Women’s Health

    • Main Phone Line: 919-515-2563

    • Administer medical attention that does not involve concern for prosecution during regular business hours

  • Student Legal Services

    • Main Office: 919-515-7091

    • If legal advice is desired, will inform survivors of their options

  • Student Conduct

    • Main Office: 919-515-2963

    • If a survivor decides to report allegations of sexual misconduct, facilitates the University conduct process in addition to or instead of any legal options that may also exist

  • Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity & Title IX Coordinator

    • Main Office: 919-513-0574

    • Helps survivors outline the steps they may need to take to resolve their concerns and will investigate concerns to ensure they are appropriately addressed

  • Prevention Services- Case managers and CARES Team

    • Main Office: 919-515-4405

    • Acts as an early intervention team to provide appropriate support for students of concern