Title IX leaders share details about sexual misconduct policies during flash seminar

In a small meeting with a group of U.Va. students Thursday, Title IX coordinators went into detail about the University’s current Title IX policy

The flash seminar was held in O'Neil Hall. Zach Rosenthal | Cavalier Daily

During a Title IX flash seminar — a one-time “mini-class” organized by students and faculty — Deputy Title IX Coordinator Akia Haynes and Head Title IX Coordinator Emily Babb discussed the process behind Title IX complaints and shared encouraging statistics with the University community Thursday evening.

During the discussion, Haynes discussed the seven different types of policy violations under the new Title IX policy, which was last changed in 2015. These seven different types are sexual assault, sexual-based harassment, gender-based harassment, complicity, stalking, retaliation and intimate partner violence. 

Complaints that pre-date the 2015 change in the University’s Title IX policy are handled using the old code, Babb said.

“We are holding them to the standard they would be held to at that time,” Babb said, noting that students and faculty are expected to abide by the guidelines that they were trained on.

When asked about the most common policy violations that are seen, Haynes said that sexual assault, intimate partner violence and harassment are the ones seen most frequently. Haynes noted that stalking, one of the policy violations, includes cyberstalking. 

“Receiving thousands of texts from someone that is unwanted, that's cyberstalking,” Haynes said. 

University resolution takes two forms — formal resolution and alternative resolution. A formal resolution involves an investigation and, if needed, a hearing and sanction. An alternative resolution involves a variety of informal ways to resolve reports. When asked to elaborate on alternative resolutions, Haynes said that “really can be very broad, but typically it ends up being a coaching session.” 

The Title IX office and the University will then work to determine if they have a duty to report any incident to the police or a prosecuting authority.  Incidents must be reported to police if a threat to health or safety is identified and the prosecuting authority if there is a felony crime. Additionally, if the case deals with a minor, Child Protective Services will get involved.

Babb shared data with the group regarding the University’s campus climate surveys. When comparing the survey data from 2015 to 2017, Babb sees the trends as largely positive.

When asked if they believe that a victim was “likely” or “extremely likely” to be supported by other students in making a support, their numbers went from 56.3 percent of students who felt that way in 2015 to 70.4 percent in 2017. 

Additionally, Babb shared data that shows that the Title IX office has seen fewer students reporting that they see sexual assault or sexual misconduct as a problem affecting students on Grounds. According to Babb, 30.6 percent felt that sexual misconduct was a significant problem on Grounds in 2015. That number fell to 21.5 percent in 2017. This would suggest that students feel safer on Grounds than they did in 2015, according to Babb.

The Title IX office is ”looking at those numbers and seeing our efforts and what kind of improvement there has been in getting information out to students,” Babb said.

When directly asked why they think these numbers are going in positive directions, Babb cited increased efforts in training and informing students and faculty.

“Our office is doing a lot of training,” Babb said, “not just that online training that every student has to take, but also having these in person, sometimes two on three, sometimes one on a hundred or a couple hundred training sessions.” 

“We really come to where the students and employees are,” Babb said. “You'll find us over at the Medical Center, training employees and staff at their meetings.” 

The Title IX Office is located in O’Neil Hall, near Beta Bridge. Instances that violate the University’s Title IX policy can be reported through Just Report It, directly to the Title IX Office by phone, email or an in-person meeting, and lastly through talking to a “Responsible Employee” such as a faculty member or a Resident Assistant, as they have a reporting obligation. 

Some students in attendance said they thought the presentation was helpful. Curry graduate student Jackie Khawand said that she found the meeting informative and relevant to her studies. 

“I think it's important to know about all the policies and the procedures that universities have,” Khawand said.

To that end, Babb noted the University wants to make the process as transparent as possible. 

“When someone starts a process with us, they understand what's gonna happen,” Babb said.

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