Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 reads, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
According to the Department of Justice, this applies not only to the University of Indianapolis, but to every college, university and educational institution in the United States. One of the main responsibilities of schools under the Title IX mandate is to appoint a coordinator who is highly trained in regard to Title IX and forms of discrimination. The responsibilities of these coordinators cover a wide range of discriminatory issues that may take place on a college campus.
UIndy, which has until recently had two Title IX coordinators, is planning to fill the position held by Erin Stoner, the coordinator who worked in Student Affairs, within the next month. Vice President for Student and Campus Affairs and Dean of Students Kory Vitangeli discussed the basic role of a Title IX coordinator on campus.
“Part of a Title IX coordinator’s role is to meet with anyone who feels like there has been a Title IX violation across campus,” Vitangeli said, “which is discrimination in a number of different ways, particularly concerning sexual harassment, sexual violence and sexual assault of any kind.”
Vitangeli offered further details about a Title IX coordinator’s role in the process of an investigation.
“So their [the Title IX coordinator’s] role would be (1): to be an advocate for students, faculty or staff who may have experienced any types of discrimination; (2): to review it [the complaint] and decide if there should be an official investigation launched, if there was a Title IX violation, and then to work with individuals who handle judicial matters,” Vitangeli said. “Sometimes the investigation may say, ‘It’s not a Title IX violation, but certainly it is a behavioral issue. We have a variety of investigators on campus that would investigate the case and then determine if it was a Title IX violation.”
Vitangeli explained the differences between the two coordinators’ roles. The coordinator who works in Human Resources handles Title IX cases that involve faculty and staff members, while the coordinator in Student Affairs, previously Stoner, handles Title IX cases that involve students. However, both coordinators are trained exactly the same and can technically handle any Title IX violations. According to Vitangeli, the search for the new Student Affairs Title IX coordinator is currently narrowing its focus.
“We are just doing some phone interviews right now, and then we will invite folks to campus probably in early October,” Vitangeli said. “So I am hoping by mid-October we [will] have somebody hired. We have been reviewing résumés and have a good pool of individuals, so I am hopeful that we will get somebody hired here [in] not too long.”
Vitangeli discussed what she believes is the most crucial role that a Title IX coordinator plays on UIndy’s campus.
“I think education [is the most important role],” Vitangeli said. “One of the reasons I think that the federal mandate came down that required institutions to have Title IX coordinators is that it’s so important to educate the campus community on what Title IX means and the importance having a safe community without discrimination. We developed that UIndy PACT program and really tried to push the education. We found that once people know what Title IX is and what type of discrimination falls under it, people are more likely to be aware and come forward once something happens.”
Vitangeli mentioned that there are many people on campus that students, faculty and staff can turn to report a Title IX violation, including her.
“There are a variety of individuals that can help report a Title IX violation,” Vitangeli said. “Any residence hall staff member, campus police, health and counseling staff and myself. What we have found in the short-term is that students are coming to me just because you’re used to getting a million emails from me. I have met with students to go over the process, and if it needed to be connected judicially or with a Title IX coordinator, I would help them do that.”