By: Alexandria Thompson

The misconceptions surrounding Title IX and to whom it applies has been a source of rumors around campus.

Students commonly believe that Title IX only applies to student-athletes, but it is intended to protect all students and employees within any educational institution that receives federal funding.

Elizabeth Cassady, Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Assistant Dean of Students, said “Title IX is a gender-based discrimination law that covers anything related to gender-based discrimination.”

Title IX violations include anything that inhibits a member of the Bellarmine community from reaching his or her full academic potential, said Lynn Bynum, Title IX Coordinator and Chief Human Resource Officer.

If a violation occurs, there are several ways to file a formal complaint. Students, faculty, and staff can officially file a complaint with Bellarmine’s Security Office, any Title IX coordinator or deputy coordinator or any other responsible employee.

Bellarmine’s Sexual Discrimination & Misconduct Policy states that responsible employees include Title IX coordinators, all student affairs staff members, residence life student staff members, public safety officers and staff and full-time faculty.

“Any responsible employee that receives a complaint is required to report the complaint to a deputy coordinator,” said Cassady.

Advisers and advocates are available to provide support to complainants and respondents, list the resources offered by Bellarmine and explain the policies and procedures Bynum said.

After a complaint is reported, a follow-up meeting with a Title IX coordinator will be scheduled via email from Bynum. Then both parties have seven days before the investigation begins. The complainant and the respondent will have their rights explained and will be briefed on the process to follow.

If formal measures are taken, two trained faculty or staff members will conduct an investigation. Bynum is responsible for dedicating two Title IX investigators to investigate a claim.

“We always try to identify a male and a female, and if it involves a faculty member, we will include another faculty member on the investigative team,” Bynum said.

There are many options when selecting an investigative team. To create an impartial investigation, Bynum consults with Dr. Mark Wiegand, the Deputy Title IX Coordinator and Vice Provost of Academic Affairs, if the claim involves a faculty or staff member. If a claim involves two students, Bynum will consult with Cassady.

The selection process for the investigative team is in place to help identify and eliminate potential conflicts of interests.

If an investigation occurs, the investigative team will meet with the reporting party, the responding party, potential witnesses, and any other person who can provide information about the claim.

Once the investigation is complete, the investigators report back to the Title IX coordinator who then determines whether the complaint will be resolved or if there was no policy violation, said Cassady.

Once the investigation is complete the parties receive a letter describing the outcomes and instructions to appeal. Both parties can appeal the outcome.

Cassady and Bynum said that in the instance that someone wants to talk a situation through but does not want to make a formal complaint or is unsure if he or she wants to make a formal complaint, then some confidential resources are available.

People who want to seek help or counseling may talk with someone in the counseling center, a nurse practitioner in the student health center, or one of Bellarmine’s priests.

These confidential sources are not required to file a report, but it is encouraged that any Title IX violation be reported so that an investigation take place.

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