Title IX hearing process eliminated

The Title IX coordinator’s office is located in Atherton Union. Collegian file photo. 

ALI HANSON | STAFF REPORTER | amhanson@butler.edu

Butler University’s policy on sex discrimination, seuxal harrassment, sexual misconduct and domestic violence changed in June to eliminate the hearing process after the report has been filed.

The policy change now features the Title IX coordinator making the decision on how to handle the case a student brings forward.

The hearing process was an eight to 10-hour process that comes after a survivor has come to the Title IX coordinator with a case. The final report — consisting of survivor, perpetrator and witness testimonies — was brought forward to a panel of three faculty judges, who are trained in Title IX policy. The perpetrator, survivor and witnesses are present for the hearing and the panel asks them questions about the incident.

Butler’s policy follows Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendment to provide equal opportunity for students to achieve an education, which promotes an environment free from discrimination and misconduct, according to the Title IX information page on Butler’s website.

Title IX coordinator Jamie Brennan makes sure the university follows this policy and educates the campus on sexual assault and harassment.

“The Title IX Coordinator makes the final (subject to appeals, if any) decision whether the Respondent is responsible for each alleged violation and assigns appropriate sanctions or remedies,” according to the university policy.

Julie Kopecka, first-year political science major, had thoughts about the Title IX process.

“I can’t even imagine having the courage to come forward to tell what someone has done to me,” Kopecka said.

She had heard about the Title IX change recently and was not entirely sure about her stance on the subject. She thought the change had both pros and cons because she could see how a student would be more willing to come forward with an issue, but she was not confident on the overall process change.

“It just doesn’t seem as fair,” Kopecka said about the lack of multiple inputs in the final decision.

Sara Minor, prevention educator and victim resource specialist, is a victim advocate for students on campus. Survivors of sexual assault, harassment, interpersonal violence or domestic violence can go to Room 119 of the HRC to talk to her and gain access to resources. Minor has already seen how this change has prompted students to come forward.

“I’ve heard from a few survivors that they are aware that the policy changed and that motivated them to come forward because they felt less intimidated by a lack of a hearing, so I think it’s a good move,” Minor said.

Sophomore marketing major Abby Smith is part of the Stand Tall Project on campus. She was very interested in the Title IX change.

“I do not agree with making a survivor be in the same room as a perpetrator,” Smith said. “I stand very strongly against that because that is re-victimizing and that is not okay to me.”

Minor works to make students feel as comfortable as they can be on campus. Students with an interest in getting a no-contact order toward another student can approach Minor. She also can talk with professors to make academic accommodations in case students are doing poorly due to  their trauma.

“Some students have been assaulted on this campus,” Minor said. “Maybe it happened a year ago, maybe it happened yesterday so wherever they are in that process, I am helping them understand their rights and options and one of those is Title IX if they want to pursue the process through university administration.”

Minor works closely with Brennan and BUPD in cases and has become versed in Title IX policy. The Title IX process begins when Brennan becomes aware a student has went through a traumatizing situation that may fit the Title IX conditions. She reaches out to the student to understand how they would like to handle the situation.

“Part of the Title IX process makes someone who has experienced interpersonal violence or a violation of the Title IX policy aware they are eligible for accommodations,” Minor said. “Those are safety accommodations, academic accommodations and lots of different support steps.”

If a student chooses to pursue a case against the perpetrator, they are assigned a Title IX investigator, who reaches out to the student. They then talk with the survivor about the incident and after that, reach out to the perpetrator and any witnesses for more information. The final report is written with both perpetrator and survivor testimonies included, as well as any comments witnesses brought forward.

These students will not go through the hearing process, and instead Brennan will decide the outcome of their case. The new Title IX process has not had any outcomes yet, but Minor said there are current cases open.


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One Comment;

  1. Greg said:

    It is a brazen violation of journalism ethics for a straight news source to use the terms “survivor” and “perpetrator” as a neutral description of parties before an adjudication has concluded. You have prejudged anyone who finds themselves accused in your coverage. Rather sad to see the award-winning Collegian make this kind of basic mistake.