What is Title IX and why are we confused about it?

Title IX, enacted almost 40 years ago, is still something Concordia is trying to explain to students about what its purpose is on campus.

In an email sent out to Concordia students on Sept. 23, the Concordia Title IX administration attempted to clarify to a confused student body what exactly Title IX is. 

The Title IX policy applies to every academic institution that receives federal funding, yet students across the Concordia campus are still in the dark when it comes to understanding their Title IX administration. 

Title IX is a policy that is meant to control sex discrimination on higher education campuses, be it through discrimination with sports or sexual assault and harassment. 

“We are making sure that we are addressing behaviors that shouldn’t be happening and providing resources to students who need them,” says Concordia Title IX coordinator Anne Teitelman. 

When an incident is reported, says Teitelman, the reporting process follows a strict process. After the report is received, Teitelman reaches out to the “reporting party,” or the student who filed the report in the first place. Students have the option to either reply to Teitelman or not. If they reply, Teitelman will discuss support options and resources with them. Teitelman says the reporting party is in charge of every case — they can stop the process at any point and are the sole decision-makers for steps being taken. All information exchanged during the Title IX reporting process is kept discreet. 

Unfortunately, this is not common knowledge amongst the Concordia student body. 

Rebekah Lawatsch, a sophomore at Concordia, says that she doesn’t know much about Title IX, other than the fact that it deals with and provides support for sexual assault and rape. 

Lawatsch is a student that would benefit from knowing more about the Title IX process. As a student RA in a Concordia residential building, she has faced sexual harassment regularly from the male residents in her building.  

“I was doing rounds and a group of guys were hassling me. They were hanging out on a girls’ floor, and I asked them if I could help them with anything in an attempt to get them to leave. One of them responded ‘You could give me your Snapchat.’ I declined, but was asked multiple more times,” says Lawatsch. “The next morning, his snap username was sitting outside my dorm room entrance, and there were condoms taped on my door and on the entrance to my floor.”

Lawatsch says that while her job is meant to support her residents and help them feel safe in their living environment, she feels unsafe while doing rounds.

“I just wish more would be done than strongly worded emails,” says Lawatsch on educating students about Title IX. “Maybe there should be a class or something — I don’t know. I don’t have the answer. I really wish I did.”

Assistant professor of philosophy and director of women and gender studies Tess Varner echoes Lawatsch’s call to advance more education on Title IX. 

We have an opportunity to facilitate dialogue about these sorts of things, and to do real study about them, and advocate on behalf of the community,” Varner says. 

However, Varner wants to see more student involvement when it comes to educating the campus on the Title IX policy. 

“I would like to see students who are confused or troubled about what they hear—or don’t hear—seek out opportunities to learn more in the classroom and outside the classroom,” Varner says. “If students showed interest in becoming more clear on these kinds of things, the women and gender studies department could bring in someone to do some more training on these kinds of things, about Title IX specifically.” 

While Concordia students remain unclear on the specifics of the Title IX policy, Varner says this could be an opportunity for Concordia to provide more background.

“If there’s confusion,” she says, “that means there’s an opportunity to do more.”

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