Title IX is an often misunderstood legal term tossed around college campuses. Every year, students are given a brief overview of Title IX and its resources, usually emphasizing its power in student-on-student harassment and protections for women’s sports. However, Title IX covers much more.
Per the U.S. Department of Education, “federally funded education programs and activities are free from all forms of sex discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sex stereotypies, sex characteristics, pregnancy or related conditions, sexual orientation, and gender identity.” This protects all students at every public university.
Kent State’s Title IX Office, staffed by Richantae Johnson, Derek Kemph, Abi Mello, Veronica Tomasko, and several coordinators, offers a variety of resources for all those involved in a case. Abi, the intake and case coordinator, spoke about the process of filing a Title IX complaint, “the first step is filing a report,” which can be done online or in the office located in room 250 in the Kent State Student Center. Abi discussed the three options available following the filing of a complaint, “you can file the report and just leave it so that it stays on record and then we can always go back and address it if anything happens in the future. Option two is to file the formal complaint” and option three “is the informal resolution process.”
Abi described the formal report process, stating that students undergoing the formal report process are entitled to a hearing, which is “scheduled and conducted by Student Conduct” where the respondent is either found “responsible or not responsible.” After the hearing, both parties, the respondent and the complainant, are allowed to appeal.
Both parties can request an informal resolution, in which the Title IX office “serves as a liaison” per Abi. Both parties must agree voluntarily before an informal resolution can be made; otherwise, the formal complaint process begins.
One alumnus reached out to Fusion magazine to spotlight Title IX. This alumnus, who has elected to remain anonymous, returned to the university following graduation to file a Title IX complaint, saying that “establishing the pattern of behavior makes a difference.” This student expressed that they’ve “had a really positive experience coming forward now all these years later, and I’m glad for that.”
“Even if you don’t get justice for yourself, you can get justice for someone else; I mean, that’s why I came forward at all,” said the former student. “And, you know, the Title IX office told me… they would tell me, ‘Well, this will help if someone else comes forward.’”
This student expressed, “we’re social creatures and we wanna protect each other, and we wanna help each other.” Coming forward can be scary, and the Title IX process can be daunting but know you are not alone. The former student stated, “I have to say, I’ve had a really positive experience coming forward now all these years later, and I’m glad for that.”
If you or someone you know is going through sexual harassment, discrimination, or violence, know you are not alone. You can seek help through the Title IX Office, the LGBTQ+ Office, the Counseling and Psychological Services team, or a trusted person on campus.
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