It is safe to say that most Yale students, if not all, have heard the phrase “Title IX” tossed around in conversation from time to time. Be it in a conduct awareness meeting or simply around a dining hall table, students are exposed every day to discussions referencing this regulation. However, many students feel that “Title IX” is obscured by a cloud of mystery and lacks a precise and concrete definition. Yes, we are aware of its associations: it details regulations of sexual misconduct and has impacted Yale in vaguely negative manner in the past few years; nonetheless, many students remain unclear about Title IX and the standards associated with it.
Established in 1972, Title IX protects students from gender-based discrimination in educational programs and activities at universities and institutions that are financially assisted on a federal level. This includes gender biasing, sexual misconduct and any other behaviors in which a student is being disadvantaged because of their sex. Most commonly, we hear of Title IX being negatively related to sexual conduct, as students often jokingly laugh about the notorious phrase, “No means yes.” However, this has proved to be no laughing matter.
In 2010, fraternity pledges chanted a grotesquely sexual phrase deriving from “No means yes” outside of a women’s center. And in March 2011, 16 students filed a complaint that the university “failed to eliminate a hostile campus environment of sexual discrimination,” which, as previously mentioned, would directly contradict the standards that Title IX aims to maintain. These key events, as well as “dozens” of reported cases of sexual assault and harassment, forced the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights to launch an investigation of the university’s questioned sexual culture.
In June of 2012, the investigation came to a close after 15 months of inquisition. Thankfully, President Levin was able to confidently proclaim that the investigation revealed “no findings of noncompliance” toward the Title. As Title IX upholds a formal legality, Yale is dedicatedly concentrating its efforts to eliminate any future controversies and ensure a safe and gender-bias free environment. But as Yale works to repair their image on sexual misconduct, these Title IX cases continually appear in the media across the country.
Yale has established mandatory sexual misconduct and response training programs for students, freshman counselors, deans and others holding positions of power. Each college at Yale has a senior administrator who is assigned to act as a Title IX coordinator. They have the responsibilities of tracking, monitoring, and seeing through complaints and investigations regarding Title IX violations. Additional resources for sexual misconduct are SHARE (Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Education Center), the Yale Police Department, and the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct. As we are all aware, there are many resources at Yale to contact in the case of violations of Title IX. Now that it has a more precise definition, it is our responsibility to recognize and defend the fairness that Title IX strives to uphold.