UW Tacoma held a Title IX training Nov. 15 in William W. Philip Hall. The training, also called Preventing and Responding to Sexual harassment & Sexual Violence, was held during two interactive sessions: 9–10:30 a.m. and 2–3:30 p.m. Both sessions were led by Valery Richardson, the University of Washington Title IX coordinator, who discussed UW policies, support services and reporting options.
Mentha Hynes-Wilson, vice chancellor of Student and Enrollment services, welcomed students, staff and faculty to the event and explained the purpose of the training.
“The university has designed certain policies and practices that they are expecting us to be knowledgeable of,” Hynes-Wilson said. “I think it’s important that we just take the time to get familiar with them. Those of us at the vice chancellor level [have a goal] to further educate the campus community about the impact [of sexual harassment and violence on] students — but also [on] all of us. Any member of our campus community can be impacted.”
After her remarks, Hynes-Wilson introduced Richardson who started her presentation with an explanation of Title IX. Title IX is part of the education amendments of 1972, and it states, “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.”
UW carries out the objectives of Title IX through a coordinated system of initiatives, programs and services that collectively protect educational access, advance gender equity, and prevent and respond to sexual harassment, sexual violence and gender discrimination.
Title IX has five focus areas that prohibit sexual harassment and any discrimination in athletics, science, technology, engineering and math, and discrimination against LGBTQ and pregnant and parenting individuals.
“One of the things I always point out about Title IX is that it applies to all UW locations and sites,” Richardson said. “Title IX also holds accountable and protects all members of the university community. It applies to students, faculty and staff. [They] can benefit from sections of this and also be held accountable to this regardless of what [their] status is as a member of the community.”
Richardson also discussed UW policy and its relation to Title IX. University policy prohibits disparate treatment — any kind of sexual harassment, retaliation or relationship that creates a conflict of interest. These can all be found in Executive Order No. 31, 51, 54 and student policies chapter 201.
Richardson then talked about two forms of sexual harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is “submission to unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature is made either an implicit or explicit condition or is used as the basis for a decision that affects employment or academics.”
The other form is hostile environment. This form has two parts: unwanted verbal, nonverbal, physical or cyber sexual behavior and the harassment escalating to a point of severity that a work or learning environment becomes hostile.
For both of these forms of harassment, Richardson explained, the university has a non-retaliation policy that prohibits retaliation against any individual that either reports a discrimination or harassment concern, or cooperates with an investigation.
“The philosophy here is that often times people don’t come forward and ask for help or support or make a report because they’re worried about the impact it might have on the relationship with the person that has … control over them,” Richardson said.
The training also covered the definition of sexual misconduct and how to recognize these behaviors. Richardson gave an example of a “mythical” colleague or classmate to illustrate how behaviors can range from unwanted comments to serious nonstop threats.
The training session concluded with resources and reporting options for students and employees, as well prevention strategies.
“Anybody here can experience sexual misconduct and be a target of it,” Richardson said. “Anybody can be harassers, anybody can be harassed … All of you as employees and students have resources available for you if you find yourself in this situation.”
These resources available to UW students and employees are both on and off campus, whether they want to seek support or make a report. Several of these resources can be found on cards located in restrooms around campus. Confidential support — meaning that information will not be shared — includes Victim Advocate, Tacoma General Hospital Emergency Room, YWCA of Pierce County, and Student Health Services — a partnership between CHI Franciscan Health and SHS committed to providing healthcare services for UWT students.
Other support services include Student Counseling Services — located in MAT 354, Rebuilding Hope, Sexual Assault Center for Pierce County and the Crystal Judson Family Justice Center.
Individuals who want to make a report can visit the Title IX investigation office, the University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office, Human Resources or talk to SafeCampus.
SafeCampus can connect individuals with the police, the Title IX coordinator, or a confidential advocate that provides free 24/7 safety planning and support. Richardson stressed to the training attendees that it is important to remember that making a report does not remain confidential as it requires an investigation and questioning.
Among the preventative strategies she shared was to notice the situation, see it as a concern, assume responsibility, know what to do and do something about it. Richardson hopes that there will be greater understanding of how to prevent sexual misconduct, harassment and violence in the future through better training and outreach. She also encourages individuals to be resources and allies, rather than just bystanders.