By Mary Friday
University Relations Intern
Over the next few months, Western Illinois Universty’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Access in conjunction with University Relations, are working to educate the University community about Title IX.
In early February, Karen Trusley and I began working with faculty, staff, administrators, and student athletes on the WIU Title IX campaign. We met with individuals to talk about what Title IX means to them and take their photos for the campaign.
Andrea Henderson, director of EOA and Title IX coordinator at WIU, was one of the 10 individuals I interviewed. Henderson, who received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at WIU, explains what Title IX is, why it is important, and how to file a Title IX complaint.
Q. What is Title IX?
A. Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 is landmark legislation that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally-funded program or activity. Most people think of athletics when they hear Title IX, but Title IX not only prohibits sex discrimination in athletics, it also prohibits sex discrimination in admissions, student services, academic programs, housing, employment, etc, basically any program or activity that the University offers. In addition, sexual harassment, which includes sexual violence, is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.
Q. Why is it important for the campus community to be familiar with Title IX?
A. It’s important for the campus community to be familiar with Title IX because we each have rights and responsibilities under the law. Understanding those rights and responsibilities will help to ensure that we create and maintain a safe environment that is responsive to the needs of our campus community. Members of the campus community who experience sex discrimination have the right to an internal investigation of their complaint; employees who learn of sex discrimination have a responsibility to report it to the Title IX coordinator. If sex discrimination is determined to have occurred, the University has a responsibility to stop the discrimination, prevent its recurrence and address its effects.
Q. What rights do students, faculty and staff have according to Title IX?
A. Students, faculty and staff have the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex. Those who experience sex discrimination, including sexual harassment/violence, have the right to an internal investigation of their complaint using the preponderance of the evidence standard; they also have the right to interim protective steps, notification of the investigatory outcome, the right to file an appeal and protections from retaliation.
Q. What does Title IX mean to you, personally?
A. Opportunity, equity and accountability. Opportunity to participate in any program or activity that the University offers without fear of discrimination based on sex – equity in the resources provided for my participation and protection – and accountability for those responsible for helping to ensure compliance with the law and for those who violate it.
Q. If someone has a Title IX complaint, how do they file such a complaint?
A. An individual who wants to file a Title IX complaint can complete an online Sexual Misconduct Investigation Request form or come to, call, or email the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access. An investigator will then work with the complainant to get the written details of their complaint to include the who, what, when, where and witnesses. Once the information is gathered the investigator will review, and, if Title IX is implicated, will begin the investigation. It’s also important to note that a Title IX complaint can be filed in addition to a criminal complaint.
For more information about Title IX visit the Office of Equal Opportunities and Access website at wiu.edu/equal_opportunity_and_access/