By Phil Brown
Part of the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX was passed on June 23, 1972. The statute applies to all federally funded schools, educational programs, and activities, so the University of Nebraska at Omaha falls under that category by nature of receiving much federal funding in terms of grants and other financial support from the federal government.
Title IX prohibits sex discrimination: the discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally-funded educational programs and activities. The law is designed to prevent this type of harmful behavior from occurring on the college campuses, classrooms, offices, and playing fields it supports with taxpayer money.
While everyone can agree that this is an important priority, it might not be as obvious why, decades after being codified into law, the statute is experiencing a current push on the campuses of UNO and other universities to promote compliance.
While the statute is 33 years old, it is now more relevant than ever, and UNO students need to look no further than their email inboxes for the proof of it. Just last month, on Sept. 11, the UNO department of safety received a complaint about sexual harassment.
A student was followed by a man in a car, who “was reportedly requesting that the victim get into his car, asking sexually specific questions, and masturbating,” according to the email sent out as part of the University’s e-Notes mailing alert system.
Sexual harassment like the incident above is part of the discrimination prohibited under Title IX, since it prevents students from fully participating their educational programs and activities.
Harassment and sexual violence from faculty and fellow students can completely derail a student’s educational experience, so that’s why the push for Title IX compliance prioritizes this aspect.
With this in mind, the University’s aim with the new Title IX training videos made available to every student is to educate.
The more educated students and faculty are about sex discrimination, which includes sexual harassment, the more equipped they will be to stop and prevent harm from being done in that area.
Simply knowing that there is a person dedicated to ensuring Title IX compliance on campus and helping students if they have an experience that is preventing them from fully experiencing their federally-funded programs is something I learned by watching the training videos, and is the kind of thing that can help head off a scenario before it becomes really harmful.
Every student should endeavor to complete the training. The kind of problematic behavior at issue here is one that flourishes and feeds on ignorance and uncertainty. Knowing exactly, or at the very least, more precisely, where the lines are drawn and what resources are available to help can be the difference between a situation that is quickly resolved and a personal nightmare for a student that affects every aspect of their life.
Even though one may think they know all there is to know about sexual harassment, the reality is that even a review of the concepts and resources at hand can be valuable.
All students should attempt to complete the slides and videos the university has provided. A comprehensive, united approach to combating these behaviors will be crucial to protecting the safety of the students.