Claire Voltarel, Campus Carrier News Editor
With recent national crises among colleges regarding sexual misconduct, many universities, Berry included, are pushing for more awareness on Title IX policies.
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prevents discrimination on the basis of sex from any education program. The law encompasses a variety of policies and stances regarding equity in athletics, sexual misconduct, harassment and violence and related topics.
According to U.S. Department of Justice, college students are most at risk for sexual abuse and rape during their first six weeks on campus due to vulnerability and acclimation. However, only about five percent of college women report their rape to the police, and reports are even fewer with men.
For years Berry has upheld a strict no-tolerance policy in regards to sexual misconduct against students, faculty and all members of the Berry community. The policy intends to clearly define sexual misconduct, as well as lay out the procedure for reporting and resolving incidents.
According to Lindsay Taylor, dean of students and Title IX coordinator, nothing within in the policy or process has changed.
However, in light of recent events on campuses across the nation, Taylor implemented a new Title IX program required for freshmen aimed to bring awareness to the subject right off the bat.
All first-year students completed an online Title IX course before entering in the fall to familiarize students with Berry’s policy, as well as begin the conversation which is reinforced by campus-wide events throughout the year.
According to Taylor, the basic course introduces the policy, informs the resources available on campus and takes students through hypothetical scenarios.
“If they are faced with a situation, now they are better prepared to know how to respond,” Taylor said. “A lot of institutions have moved to this type of model.”
In the fall, freshmen, other students and faculty attend a campus-wide talk entitled “Can I Kiss You?” aimed at discussing topics of consent and relationships. Freshmen also participate in Make A Difference Theatre which presents scenarios regarding consent, respect, diversity and sexual assault.
Many other panels and events discussing related themes present throughout the year and are open to all members of the Berry community. Taylor hopes these events will help reinforce what the freshmen learned in their summer course.
Administration is also looking to facilitate more Title IX discussion with students in the future. Taylor says they are aiming to implement another program the third year of current freshmen’s Berry career. However, she wants the program to be relevant and not a simple repeat of the original course.