AU administrators say they will support students following new Title IX rules
The Office of Campus Life said in a webinar Thursday that they were still reviewing the rules
After new Title IX regulations were released by the U.S. Department of Education, the University’s Office of Campus Life held a webinar on Thursday to announce that it will, while abiding by the rules, continue to support those involved in cases.
Students are calling for the University to commit to maintaining fair policies that are legal within the rules.
The finalized regulations roll back some of the Obama-era guidelines and expand rights given to the accused. Some students said the new rules may discourage survivors from coming forward and want the University to be clear about their commitment to take steps to make the process less traumatic for victims.
Former AU College Democrats President Julia Larkin created a petition calling for the University to reject these policies, but the University and others have made it clear that they will comply with the regulations as it is a federal law and could affect federal funding.
College of Arts and Sciences junior Kelsey Thorpe created a petition to demand action from AU that remains within the law.
“I wasn’t seeing the support that I thought it should’ve gotten,” Thorpe said. “I didn’t really see any doable demands in that petition.”
Thorpe’s petition outlined seven different demands that could be followed within the regulations, such as establishing preponderance of evidence as the universal standard and guaranteeing that they would look into events that took place off-campus. It received over 700 signatures by Wednesday.
Some of these issues were addressed in Thursday’s webinar, despite not referring to this particular petition. The panel, made up of administrators who are reviewing the Title IX regulations and Mehak Chadha, AUSG’s Center for Advocacy and Student Equity director, discussed how the University will engage with the new rules.
“I don’t see anything so far that says we have to stop supporting our students and we don’t plan on doing that,” said Traci Callandrillo, assistant vice president of campus life, during the webinar.
They said they are currently reviewing the over 2,000 pages of regulations and want to put as much time and energy into their next steps as they can. At this moment, they said they don't have answers to many of the students' questions.
“Generally, I think universities try to cover up what they know and what they don’t know, but AU is pretty transparent about the fact that they’re working through it,” Chadha said in an interview.
The new Title IX rules, which will take effect in August, include dating violence as a type of sexual harassment and require schools to offer options like dorm room reassignments or no-contact orders.
Organizations such as AU Dems already mobilized students to voice their concerns to the University. On the other side of the political aisle, AU College Republicans President Katy Selinger told The Eagle that they advocate for a system that demands due process and the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ but also recognize the need for the University to protect survivors.
“We hope the University continues to help victims as much as possible in accordance with new guidelines,” Selinger said.
Chadha said she wants to make sure students’ frustrations and experiences are heard by the administration. She said CASE created a Google form to see if students had opinions or knew about the recent changes. Ultimately, a document will be sent to the administration with different categories of opinions and demands in order to “consolidate voices.”
Thorpe said she was disappointed by the webinar because she felt like the administration did not address any of the real issues. Instead, they emphasized resources they already have in place.
“It is really great that we have all those resources, but I think that the bigger issue, right now, is the rights of survivors are really in jeopardy and this puts a lot of people in danger,” Thorpe said.