Juli Smith serves as the coordinator for Title IX as well as Director for Compliance and Equity, working to oversee Title IX policies, processes and investigations, as well as connecting students to resources about Title IX.
When Smith joined DePauw, her position was fairly new. She uses her skills from law school to work in a compliance capacity for Title IX processes as well as to offer emotional support for those reporting situations.
“When someone reports being subjected to interpersonal violence or sexual harassment, it profoundly affects their ability to get through what they need to get through as a student,” Smith said.
A federal civil rights law, Title IX enables regulations and informal guidance, defining what discrimination based on sex means. It covers areas of sexual harassment and equity in all terms on a college campus, as well as sexual violence. Smith describes it as “understanding of all the different ways that conduct can have a discriminatory effect.” Title IX enables students to report such conduct and involves working with faculty members on DePauw’s campus to keep students safe and facilitate and support them so that they can progress academically.
This year, Title IX regulations faced new changes. The new amendments limit the geographical location of where Title IX applies. DePauw has worked over the summer to revise its policies to continue to cover all the same types of conduct.
“Things have not changed in the sense that they could be Title IX violations or university code violations. It’s a difference in form but not a difference in substance,” Smith said
Most notably, Title IX has shifted from a dual-investigator model to a more individualized mode of investigation. Now, the decision making is done by three separate individuals. That decision is based not only on investigator reports, but the testimony of parties and witnesses as well. Now, Title IX also accepts questions from the advisor of the defendant’s party as well as the decision panel. This allows for cross-questioning, a feature DePauw will not be adding to their process.
DePauw is working to ensure that the two parties are not in the same room so that neither has to go through that ordeal. According to RAINN, only 20% of female victims on college campuses actually file a report to law enforcement. For students who don’t feel comfortable coming forward with their experiences, Sarah Ryan, the director of the Women’s Center, and the Sexual Assault Survivors Advocates (SASA) hotline are availble for more personalized support.
Students who wish to be allies or know more about bystander intervention can check out the Green Dot program, which offers bystander intervention training. Smith also stated that “Another important thing to do is regulate oneself’s behaviour and others, call out when you see a behavior pattern, if it’s a demeaning sexual joke, disrespectful and sexually implicit beyond the comfort zone.”
Whether through the Title IX office or elsewhere, Smith hopes that students know that “coming forward and disclosing that something has happened to them does not obligate them to take any particular path or action.”