What is Title IX?

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at institutions that receive federal financial assistance. The University is committed to providing an environment free from discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes sexual misconduct.

WHO IS SEWANEE’S TITLE IX COORDINATOR AND WHAT IS THE TITLE IX OFFICE?

Dr. Sylvia Gray (931.598.1420, Woods Lab 138, smgray@sewanee.edu or titleix@sewanee.edu). Click [here] for the staff page. 

The Title IX Office is not a discipline office. It is a compliance, prevention, and resource office. The Title IX Coordinator and associated staff DO NOT have the power to sanction students (i.e. put on probation, suspend, expel, etc.) or terminate employees. Those decisions are handled by The Dean of Students via the Office of Student Conduct/Community Standards; the Dean of the degree program for graduate students; the Dean of the College for Faculty; or the Human Resources Office for staff employees. 

WHAT DOES THE TITLE IX OFFICE DO?

The Title IX Office is not a discipline office as some believe. The Title IX Office is responsible for three overarching categories that we call C. P. R:

  1. Compliance - is the state of being in accordance with established laws, regulations, guidelines, policies, specifications, or the process of becoming so; ensuring that the University conforms to all laws, regulations, guidelines, and policies placed upon them or that are put in place by them. Compliance also includes management or oversight of responding to any alleged violations that occur.
  2. Prevention - is focusing up-stream and addressing the causes of sex discrimination/misconduct. True culture change can only be achieved by addressing the patterns, beliefs and behaviors that are at the root of sexual violence (sexual violence is another term that encompasses all forms of sexual misconduct). The Title IX Office implements and supports prevention strategies through training and education efforts, and supporting prevention programming by campus partners and student organizations.  The Title IX Office also recognizes and awards individuals and organizations who contribute to stopping sex discrimination/misconduct.
  3. Resources/Options 
    • Resources are individualized services that must be mutually provided to the involved parties, where applicable.  Resources are intended to restore or preserve equal access to education or deter further harm. An investigation is not needed to request supportive measures under Title IX. See a list of resources [here].
    • Options are paths that you can take to navigate your next steps (formal - meaning an investigation or informal - a process that is not an investigation). See the pathways for options [here]. If you have questions, please contact the Title IX Coordinator so that the paths can be explained to you. 
I filed a report or someone filed A REPORT on my behalf. What can I expect next and what are some key points of the process?

Once the institution receives an IDENTIFIABLE report of sex discrimination/sexual misconduct (some reports are anonymous and limit the institutions ability to respond effectively), an involved party can expect a University official to reach out, typically via email and/or phone call, to discuss options and resources. This is always the next step! The University Official is mainly interested in checking on the individual's wellbeing and to talk with them about options and resources. It is strongly encouraged that involved parties speak with the Title IX Coordinator in order to know what is available for support and to understand the processes. 

As mentioned above, options are paths that you can take to navigate your next steps (formal - meaning an investigation or informal - a process that is not an investigation). See the pathways for options [here]. If you have questions, please contact the Title IX Coordinator so that the paths can be explained to you. Resources are individualized services that must be mutually provided to the involved parties, where applicable.  Resources are intended to restore or preserve equal access to education or deter further harm. An investigation is not needed to request supportive measures under Title IX. 

Once a University official reaches out to an involved party, it is up to that individual if they wish to speak with that official. No one can force or obligate an involved party to participate in a Title IX process, but there are aspects of the regulations and the policy that must occur when a process is initiated (i.e. certain meetings, review of evidence, timeframes, notices, etc.). The involved party is encouraged to speak to the Title IX Coordinator so that next steps can be discussed (what option is preferred and what support is desired). It does not matter if the involved party wishes to pursue a formal process of investigation or an informal process, they must first have a report [click here] submitted and then file a formal complaint. A report and formal complaint are required for either path. One can get a formal complaint form directly from the Title IX Coordinator after a report is filed. 

Once a formal complaint is filed, it is reviewed. The formal complaint is the step that identifies which option the involved party wishes to choose (i.e. the formal or informal path). The Title IX Coordinator must review the formal complaint to first determine if it meets the standard of Title IX; if it does, it will be approved to move forward for the action requested in the formal complaint (either a formal investigation or an informal process). If the complaint does not reach the standard of Title IX, it will be dismissed and submitted to the appropriate office for review and adjudication (i.e. Dean of Students Office for undergraduate students, Human Resources for Staff, Dean of the College for faculty, etc).

As a reminder, both the complainant and respondent have rights under Title IX and the University Policy. The Title IX process is regulated by the federal guidelines and the University policy. For instance, both the complainant and respondent have a right to file a formal complaint, both can exercise their right to free speech, both have a right to have an advisor present at any and all meetings, both are presumed not responsible for any alleged violation until a final determination has been made, and both can expect to be supported under the Title IX regulations and policies - just to name a few. The Title IX Coordinator must ensure that if involved parties wish to participate in a grievance process, that they know their rights and that they are treated equally. Title IX covers undergraduate students, graduate students, employees (both faculty and staff), and participants; all parties must be treated equally under the regulations. 

As mentioned above, the Title IX Office is not a discipline office and has no authority to suspend, terminate, or otherwise sanction an individual. The Title IX office can not simply "kick someone out" because a report or report(s) are made.  Reports serve as information reported "in good faith" to the Title IX Office. The Title IX Office must be a neutral or unbiased party that follows the federal regulations set forth by the federal government and any policies set for by the University [see related policies here]. Involved parties have a right to due process under the Title IX regulations and the University policy. When there is a formal option for an investigation, all respondent parties must be allowed the opportunity to face and defend themselves in a hearing against anyone who brings forth an accusation under the Title IX policy. Where there is an informal option, the Title IX Office will work with the involved parties either face-to-face or individually, to resolve the matter without an investigation. 

What is “Clery reporting”?

The University prepares an annual report to comply with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Crime Statistics Act. The Clery Act (20 USC § 1092(f)) is a federal law that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. It requires colleges and universities to:

  • publish an Annual Security Report by October 1, documenting three calendar years of select campus crime statistics
  • maintain a public crime log
  • disclose crime statistics for incidents that occur on campus, in unobstructed public areas immediately adjacent to campus, and at certain non-campus facilities

The University's annual report is prepared by a team bringing together several offices and departments: the Office of the Dean of Students, in the College of Arts and Sciences; the Office of Institutional Research; the Office of Legal Counsel; the Marketing and Communications Department; and the Sewanee Police Department. The report is e-mailed to the entire campus community and can be found on the University website.

What’s the difference between the reporting requirements of Title IX and the Clery Act for cases of sex Discrimination?

While both Title IX and the Clery Act contain reporting requirements concerning cases of sex discrimination, the requirements are not identical.

Title IX provides that no person may be subjected to discrimination on the basis of sex under any educational program receiving federal financial assistance. A school must respond promptly and effectively to sexual harassment, including sexual violence. When responsible employees know about possible sex discrimination, they must report what they know to the Title IX coordinator or other school designee that is listed within their policy. The University must respond to sexual violence that occurs in the context of a school’s education programs and activities (including academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic, and other programs, whether those programs take place in a school’s facilities, on a school bus, at a class or training program sponsored by the school at another location, or elsewhere).

Under the Clery Act, the University must disclose accurate and complete crime statistics for incidents that are reported to campus security authorities and local law enforcement as having occurred on or near the campus (crimes include criminal homicide, rape and other sexual assaults, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and others). “Clery Geography” includes three general categories: campus (academic buildings, residence halls, Greek houses, etc.); non-campus property owned or controlled by a recognized student organization; and public property within the reasonably contiguous geographic area of the institution (sidewalks, streets, etc.).

What does “on campus” mean at Sewanee for Clery reporting?

Much of Sewanee’s Domain beyond central campus is regularly used by students, for research and outdoor lab work, recreation, socializing, and special events. The University therefore defines “on campus” for purposes of Clery reporting as the area bounded by the Perimeter Trail. For purposes of crime reporting, the downtown area, the Sewanee Market, Lake Cheston, and part of the Mountain Goat Trail are all considered to be on campus. Sidewalks and streets on campus fall into the “public property” category. Examples of “non-campus” property include Lost Cove and Lake Dimmick.

WHO IS THE SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, HOW DOES IT AFFECT ME, AND WHAT DO THEY DO?

The current secretary of education is Miguel Cardona, who was confirmed by the Senate on March 1, 2021.

The United States secretary of education is the head of the U.S. Department of Education. The secretary serves as the principal advisor to the president of the United States, and the federal government, on policies, programs, and activities related to all education in the United States. As a member of the Cabinet of the United States, the secretary is fifteenth in the line of succession to the presidency.

See the link [here] to read more on the direct answer to the question of the role of the secretary of education and how it affects you. [Here] is a link to the Department of Education's description of the role of the secretary. 

What is Sex Discrimination and how does it differ from Sexual Misconduct?

Sex Discrimination is a broad term that encompasses several forms of prohibited conduct. For example, sex discrimination includes sexual misconduct such as non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual intercourse, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Sex Discrimination under Title IX only includes sexual harassment. Sexual harassment as defined by Title IX includes sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. 
*Sexual misconduct is a form of discrimination under federal civil rights laws. Most forms of sexual misconduct also constitute crimes in Tennessee and throughout the United States.

*You may see Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct used interchangeably, however sexual misconduct is a form of sex discrimination. The all encompassing term is sex discrimination. 

WHAT DOES "CONFIDENTIAL" MEAN?:

Generally speaking, confidentiality refers to personal information shared with another individual or within a process that generally cannot be divulged or shared to a third party without [your] consent or knowledge.  In other words, if you share information with a confidential resource or to persons within a confidential process, then that "resource or process" will not share that information publicly (without a legal process compelling such disclosure). If information is shared with your consent or knowledge, then that information will be kept within what is typically a small group of people/persons who have a right or need to know. 

CAN REPORTS OF SEX DISCRIMINATION BE SUBMITTED ANONYMOUSLY?

Yes. The University has an online reporting system that allows for anonymous reports. In addition, reports to University Counseling Service or University Health Services, to the University Chaplains, or to off-campus rape crisis resources can be kept confidential. Certain statistics concerning these incidents, rather than detailed information, must be reported to comply with federal requirements. Other employees are obligated to report all incidents of sexual misconduct to the Office of the Dean of Students and the Title IX Coordinator.

The Office for Civil Rights has issued guidance that “the [University] should take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the Report consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation.” The University’s ability to respond is limited when an incident is reported without specific names. More than half of the incidents reported in 2013 were anonymous.

how can i view my judicial records?

Click [HERE] to go to the Release of Information requests forms. Students (and former students) have the right to request, review, and inspect their file as needed, however, any information pertaining to other students will be redacted. Should a student need an original, this may be obtained for court purposes only. Students have the right to inspect and review the their education records (providing they have not waived this right) within 45 days of the day the University receives a request for access. If a student is requesting documents for an application for graduate school or employment, you may contact the Dean of Students at dstudent@sewanee.edu . Your request will be forwarded to the custodian of the record(s) requested. 

If you are a former student and wish to review your conduct file for any reason, please download and fill out the Release of Information form for former students (click the link above) and return it by email to dstudent@sewanee.edu or fax to 931.598.1803.

can i be forced into participating in a title ix process?

No! The Title IX office nor any other party can force anyone to participate in a Title IX process. 

WhAT IS A "FORMAL COMPLAINT" AS DEFINED BY THE OFFICE OF CIVIL RIGHTS & THE TITLE IX REGULATIONS?

From page 2014 of the Title IX Regulations: Formal complaint means a document filed by a complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging sexual harassment against a respondent and requesting that the recipient investigate the allegation of sexual harassment. At the time of filing a formal complaint, a complainant must be participating in or attempting to participate in the education program or activity of the recipient with which the formal complaint is filed. A formal complaint may be filed with the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, or by electronic mail, by using the contact information required to be listed for the Title IX Coordinator under § 106.8(a), and by any additional method designated by the recipient. As used in this paragraph, the phrase “document filed by a complainant” means a document or electronic submission (such as by electronic mail or through an online portal provided for this purpose by the recipient) that contains the complainant’s physical or digital signature, or otherwise indicates that the complainant is the person filing the formal complaint. 

**SEE PAGE 10 of the University's Title IX Policy. for the policy definition of "formal complaint" (which is based on the above regulations).  A formal complaint is required regardless of if the individual wishes to pursue and investigation or not. 

HOW DOES A FORMAL COMPLAINT DIFFER FROM A REPORT?

A formal compliant is required prior to an action and can only be filed by the complainant (person filing a complaint or alleging a violation/harm) or the Title IX Coordinator. A report serves as information and can be submitted by anyone who wishes to make a good faith report regarding a possible violation of the University's Title IX/Sex Discrimination Policy. A report can be submitted without a formal complaint, but a formal complaint should ideally have a report associated with it.  

i understand that investigations are part of title ix as a formal process, but where can i find information about an informal process?

Informal processes do not require an investigation and are determined on a cases-by-case basis. Both parties must agree to enter into an informal process prior to its initiation.  Refer to page 21 of the Title IX/Sex Discrimination Policy. Informal Processes must be discussed with the Title IX office and must be accompanied by a signed formal complaint. 

Why aren’t all cases of sex discrimination turned over to the police?

Complainants (those who are bringing a complaint or report of harm) may take action through the student discipline process, through the criminal justice system, or through both. When the complainant is known -- some reports are anonymous and give only gender and the location of alleged incident -- the complainant is put in contact with law enforcement, and the complainant's options are fully presented. The University encourages complainants to consult fully about legal options.

A complainant may choose not to pursue criminal action, and the University's experience has been that students and employees rarely choose the criminal process. When an individual decides to turn to the police with a report of sex discrimination, the University can simultaneously conduct its own investigation of the allegation and take appropriate action as required by Title IX.

How are student penalties/Sanctions for sex discrimination determined?

Filing a formal complaint of sex discrimination against another student could result in a resolution process in which formal disciplinary action is taken if the respondent is found responsible. Possible sanctions include, but are not limited to, warning, probation, suspension, and expulsion. Students involved may also be required to attend appropriate drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs or other types of counseling.

Sex Discrimination includes a range of behaviors of varying degrees of severity. The sanctions available for these behaviors are intended to reflect the facts and circumstances of a particular case as best they can be determined, and are premised on the University’s role as an educational institution.

The decision of whether or not a student is responsible for the alleged charges depends upon "preponderance of evidence.” A “preponderance of evidence” means that there is 51% certainty that the respondent is responsible for a violation of the sex discrimination policy, and this standard of evidence is mandated by the Office for Civil Rights. 

Are parents or guardians notified?

The University reserves the right to notify parents/guardians of dependent students regarding any health or safety risk, change in student status, or conduct situation, particularly concerning alcohol and other drug violations. When a student is not dependent, the University will contact parents/guardians to inform them of situations in which there is a significant health and/or safety risk.

Can my hearing be held over a platform such as Zoom?

Yes. Please see [this link] regarding the use of technology, such as Zoom, at Sewanee. Click on the option that best fits your role (i.e. student, faculty, or staff). You will find instructions for Zoom and other instructions regarding the use of technology. 

i have questions about a no contact order (NCO). what are some things i should know?

First, No Contact Orders (NCOs) are enforced through the University's discipline or conduct processes. No Contact Orders typically involve three parties; the two with a conflict and the University. A No Contact Order is not one-sided; it is mutual. Both parties are restricted from communication, places, and interactions with one another. Even if one individual "files" a NCO, what they are ideally doing is making a request for the University to review and approve the need for a mutual NCO between both parties. The No Contact Order is not "against" the opposing party, but rather includes both parties and the University. 

A request must be made to have a NCO put in place for a specified amount of time. Simply requesting or having an NCO request approved does not imply any judgement regarding the factual nature of the incident. Neither party is deemed responsible for any violation of the University's policies. An NCO is a support measure rather than a disciplinary process; however, if a NCO is violated, the violation is handled through the appropriate discipline office.

When requests are approved, the expectation is that both individuals will refrain from approaching one another at any time; calling one another at any time; send via email, campus or regular mail anything to one another; contacting or communicating with one another - including through a third party - in any way at any time; entering each others residence halls at any time; and entering each other's Greek Houses where official membership is held - at any time (Greek affiliates are not recognized by the University). It is rare that a No Contact Order is not approved, but each approval is on a case-by-base basis. 

I am seeing inappropriate comments on yikyak or other social media platforms. what can I do?

The University is committed to free expression. Speech not specifically directed against individuals in a harassing way may be protected by traditional safeguards of free speech, even though the comments may cause considerable discomfort or concern to others in the community. 

  • Platforms typically have some type of policy and procedure regarding the community standards expected of their users and what to do when a user violates those standards. Click on the links below to learn about the policies and steps that you can take to address inappropriate content. A non-exhaustive list is provided below:
    • YIKYAK has "Community Guardrails" that speak to what is and is not allowed on their platform. [CLICK HERE].
    • INSTAGRAM has "Community Guidelines" that speak to community expression and safety. [CLICK HERE]
    • SNAPCHAT has "Community Guidelines" that speak to community expression and safety. [CLICK HERE].
    • TIKTOK [CLICK HERE] has "Community Guidelines" that speak to violent or graphic content, illegal activity, and hateful behavior.
    • FACEBOOK/META has "Community Guidelines" that speak to community expression, privacy, and safety. [CLICK HERE
    • TWITTER has "Rules and Policies" that speak to platform use and integrity. [CLICK HERE
What is the University doing, beyond discipline, to combat sex discrimination?

The University’s efforts fall into five main categories:

  1. Monitoring. The University routinely evaluates the campus environment to understand students' experiences, especially concerning social activities, patterns of behavior, and students' health and safety.
  2. Prevention. Based on these assessments of campus culture, the University develops prevention programs to address concerns strategically.
  3. Response. When incidents happen, the University's response includes supporting students and their friends, preserving evidence, gathering critical information, providing medical response, informing victims of their options, and creating an environment that feels safe.
  4. Partnerships. The University has entered into a partnership with medical professionals from area emergency departments, and works as well with the Franklin County Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's Office to ensure readiness and cooperation.
  5. Training. The University trains students on effective bystander intervention. Residential life staff, Greek leaders, Women's Center residents, and peer educators all receive basic training on prevention and response. Staff members involved in the investigation and hearing process receive training to understand the issues and prepare for their roles.
WHERE CAN I FIND INFORMATION ON THE TENNESSEE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY AND/OR WHERE SEX OFFENDERS LIVE IN RELATION TO SEWANEE?

Link to the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry

Link to Sex Offenders near Sewanee, TN

Where can I find more information?

Information may be found on several related topics in the annual Security and Fire Safety report (updated each October 1)