The panel hosted by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion about the new change to the sexual misconduct policy, Title IX, left students, including myself, with questions. As a freshman at West Chester, I was introduced to campus through about 20 hours of optional or necessary Zoom videos. To be completely honest, I do not really remember the content of the sexual misconduct policy I was introduced to back in August. There is a big possibility that many incoming students starting the year online disregarded the presentation in general, because the risk of being assaulted in any way on campus goes down substantially when you do not step foot on campus or even outside.
But unlike the mandatory introduction to the policy that I had to participate in before even attending an online class, the new changes to the policy went widely unannounced. In the open panel on Wednesday, a student questioned why the decision of change was not announced until months later. A panelist quickly responded that all the information had been available online several months ago. But in a later conversation with my peers, we discussed how the normal (especially online) college student does not regularly check the sexual misconduct website, unless, of course, you are assaulted. But even so, I do not imagine that someone dealing with the trauma of reporting a sexual assault would take their time reading up about new changes.
Other students also expressed more concern with the contradictory aspects of Title IX, which include changing the schedule of the accuser, and not the accused, if the accused makes a complaint and the prospect of survivor cross-examination and its effects on possible trauma. These topics were not discussed in the panel, and students who asked anonymous questions on these subjects had their questions answered privately, not in front of the 45 students who attended. It was announced, however, that there would be more question-and-answer type panels in the future, so these questions could possibly still be addressed publicly.
It was also stated that the informative PowerPoint on the change and the recorded Zoom presentation would be available after the panel. As of Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, this has not happened yet, but after sending a quick email to the Office’s Compliance and Database Coordinator, I discovered that they are still working on adding subtitles to the video. Currently, the website has a brief overview about Title IX, but the panel provided a lot more information.
The website currently has many helpful resources such as policies and definitions, reporting options, resources and support and the privacy exit button, but the exact changes that are being made as a result of Title IX are somewhat confusing and likely unclear to the average student. I hope that the panel presentation is posted soon so as to help students understand general information about Title IX, and that more panels occur so as to help answer some student questions about its implementations and what they mean, because many students, including myself, still don’t feel like they have a complete understanding of the information.
Emma Hogan is a first-year English Writings major. EH954390@wcupa.edu