OPINION: New Title IX rules give K-State more excuses to do nothing for student survivors

Anderson Hall, pictured here in November of 2019, is the administration building of Kansas State. It is home to the Office of the President, the Office of Student Life and other administrative offices. The building is one of the oldest on campus as one of the three original buildings. (File Photo by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

The moment Kansas State disaffiliated itself with the fraternities and sororities on campus, they said “We don’t care about you if you get raped, assaulted or harassed. There’s nothing we can do.”

Leadership in the Office of Institutional Equity yet again supported perpetrators by giving them more freedom to attack people off campus by approving a new Title IX rule this year. Perpetrators will continue to get away with these traumatic crimes every single day.

Title IX was previously a powerful tool in stopping sexual violence and harassment in schools, but a little over a week ago on Aug. 14, the Department of Education’s new Title IX rule went into effect. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos put this new rule into place. It has provisions, but the goal of the rule was stated to be “ensuring that every person’s claim of sexual misconduct is taken seriously while ensuring the fair treatment of every person accused of such misconduct.”

Title IX is a part of the Education Amendments created in 1972. Essentially, it prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding — the vast majority of schools. While Title IX is a very short statute, U.S. Supreme Court decisions and guidance from the Department of Education have given it a broad scope — covering sexual harassment and sexual violence. Under Title IX, schools are legally required to respond to and remedy hostile educational environments and the failure to do so is a violation that could result in a school losing its federal funding.

The new rule drastically reduces protections for student survivors and makes it easier for schools to sweep sexual misconduct under the rug.

K-State’s Office of Institutional Equity homepage states, “Title IX’s prohibition against sex discrimination applies to persons under any education program or activity operated by the university. Title IX is not just for athletes — it applies to all students and employees. It applies without regard to sexual orientation, or whether the discrimination is perpetrated by individuals of the same or opposite sex.”

Under new rules, I do not believe this holds true. Any student, athlete or employee who suffers trauma at the hands of an abuser on or off campus is not protected by K-State.

Know Your IX is a nonprofit organization led by survivors and youth to empower K-12 and college students to end gender violence in schools and beyond. They strongly opposed the new rule and gave nine rules that are their translation of what the new rule actually means.

1. “Schools must dismiss any complaints of sexual misconduct that occurred outside of campus-controlled buildings or educational activities.”

Wow, sound familiar? Oh yeah, that’s because K-State already does this.

2. “Colleges must allow live cross-examination by the ‘representative’ of each party’s choosing. Meaning, survivors could be questioned by their perpetrator’s family member, friend or fraternity brothers.”

3. “With the 60-day timeline for a final report on a survivor’s case removed, schools can drag students through lengthy investigations.”

As a survivor and someone who has connected with many survivors through my activism, I know that K-State already does this.

4. “If you or your perpetrator go to different schools that are not in a consortium, you can’t pursue a case against them.”

Yes, K-State already does this too.

5. “Schools can only investigate the most severe cases of sexual harassment instead of stopping the violence before a survivor is pushed out of school.”

I know several survivors who have dropped out of school after experiencing trauma.

6. “Mediation is allowed in cases of sexual assault, rape and dating or domestic violence for student-on-student misconduct.”

Mediation presumes that the perpetrator and survivor have an equal voice in decision-making. It focuses on future behavior, and many mediators do not allow the survivor to address past issues of violence.

7. “Religious schools can claim a Title IX religious exemption even after they are charged with discrimination.”

8. “Schools’ obligation to act against sexual harassment is greatly reduced.”

K-State already feels no obligation to expel rapists.

9. “DeVos’ Title IX rule makes it easier for schools to ignore cases of sexual violence and sweep sexual assault under the rug. Her rule says colleges are only required to act if you tell the right person, like your Title IX coordinator or dean.”

Unfortunately, the people in these positions at K-State let violent criminals remain on campus and do not do anything to help you if you’re a survivor.

Here’s what you can do, according to Know Your IX:

1. Analyze the new policy and look for red flags.

2. Consider what your school does and how to ensure accountability.

3. Petition your school to revise [its] policies to protect student survivors.

Another thing you can do is attend the virtual Title IX open forum on Monday, Aug. 31 at 11 a.m. The open forum will reveal K-State’s newly revised policy under PPM 3010 prohibiting sexual, dating and domestic violence, stalking and harassment. This will be an opportunity to ask questions, share concerns, and make comments regarding the policy.

K-State created a small Title IX group to revise the policy, composed of the Office of Institutional Equity, General Council and Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs. However, the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education and other campus partners were excluded from the working group. Most alarming, K-State student voices and experiences were excluded.

The new guidelines under the PPM 3010 will affect students on our campus and the failure to include student voices in the policy revision discussion is harmful. These revisions are a disservice to victims and survivors.

Additional information about the Title IX open forum, along with the link to attend the forum will be shared in student and staff K-State Today editions on Aug. 28 and Aug. 31. The forum will be streamed on OIE’s website. I hope you’ll take the time to attend.

As a survivor of rape during my freshman year in Haymaker Hall, I feel compelled to stand up for myself and future student survivors at K-State. The new Title IX regulations and the revisions to the PPM 3010 further enrage me because of how long I and other women and men have suffered from violence that could have been prevented.

Time is beyond up for us to have justice. Stand up, take action and don’t stop fighting. Survivors need your support now more than ever.

Paige Eichkorn is a senior in journalism and mass communications. She is also the online editor of Manhappenin’ Magazine. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

I’m a senior in journalism & mass communications. In addition to writing on staff for the Collegian, I’m the online editor for Manhappenin magazine and I've worked for the Royal Purple Yearbook. I'm also the founder of the Wildcats Against Sexual Violence student organization and I'm licensed to fly drones! When I graduate, I hope to get a job as a criminal investigative reporter.