Concerns for students’ mental health, harassment off-campus discussed in Title IX forum

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Title IX policies should be amended frequently to best serve the population, assistant director of student life for the CARE office, Clara Kientz said. (Bailey Britton | Collegian Media Group)

The Office of Institutional hosted a virtual forum over Title IX revisions on Monday and addressed concerns from students, faculty and staff.

The Kansas Department of Education released new Title IX guidelines this spring, which Kansas State implemented Aug. 14 in an updated policy.

A recording of the forum can be found on the OIE website.

Clara Kientz, assistant director for the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education, said policies should be analyzed and revised frequently to be sure they meet the current population’s needs as well as the university climate.

“It is also important that universities remain in compliance with federal law changes,” Kientz said.

Opening the forum, President Richard Myers said the school does not tolerate discrimination, harassment or sexual harassment.

The forum partially focused on K-State’s policy on sexual violence associated with Greek life.

Thomas Lane, vice president of student life and dean of students, pointed out that Greek houses at K-State are private property and are not directly associated with the university. This separation between K-State and Greek life exempts K-State from addressing university policy violations — Title IX included — that occur within sorority or fraternity houses as well as other independent student organizations.

Spaces the university controls include residence halls, classrooms and class trips.

“In those spaces, student members of Greek organizations are treated just the same as students who are subjected to the university’s conduct policies, including Title IX,” Lane said. “On the other hand, the university doesn’t control what happens on private property to students or employees.”

However, Lane said the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent events might force the university to take a look at all of its policies, one in particular being the student organization policy.

“If the policy were to change,” Myers said, “it would change what our response could be to sexual harassment and sexual assault [in those spaces].”

One change to the Title IX policy includes the requirement that parties involved in a complaint enter a live hearing in which parties are cross-examined through an adviser of their choice. The university must provide an adviser if one is not selected by either party.

Lane suggested the CARE office as a resource for victims and survivors of sexual misconduct who may be retraumatized through the live-hearing process.

“They have a CARE fund that can assist students who might be wanting to access mental health services,” Lane said.

Counseling Services and the Office of Student Life were also mentioned as helpful resources by speakers at the forum.

The OIE also provides a page of resources and support for students, faculty and staff on its website.

Faculty, staff, student groups, leadership bodies and offices providing supportive services have been invited to meet with university officials to discuss the new regulations. Inquiries for meetings can be directed to the Office of Institutional Equity at (785) 532-6220 or via email at equity@ksu.edu.

Feedback on the new Title IX policy will be accepted through October.

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