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Title IX revisions broaden scope

by Kristin Whitman

Title IX, the law against sexual discrimination on campus, will now apply to sexual harassment and violence, according to an email sent to VSU students on Jan. 21.

Revisions to federal law brought about these changes to Title IX.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities that receive federal funding.

Title IX provides, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Dr. Maggie Viverette, VSU’s Title IX coordinator, provided a bit of background on some changes that will be made to Title IX.

“The Clery Act and the ‘Violence Against Women’ Act provide guidance and clarification to colleges and universities on how each law should be implemented and which types of incidents should be labeled as Title IX,” Viverette said.

These revisions include terms of sexual harassment. VSU Attorney Laverne Gaskins said that the Office for Civil Rights sent out a letter to universities in April 2011 telling them they had an obligation, under Title IX, to eliminate sexual harassment, including sexual violence.

Sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts committed against a person’s will or where that person is not capable of giving consent to the other.

“Students, faculty, and staff deserve to learn and work in an environment that is welcoming and safe,” Viverette said. “Title IX is a critical piece of the effort required to create a safe campus environment. Women as well as men should be able to carry out their daily activities within the campus community without the fear of becoming a victim of sexual violence.

“Every member of the campus community has a responsibility to the campus in the effort to prevent sexual violence. We must work together to protect each other,” Dr. Viverette said.

There are measures that VSU has taken in its attempt to implement Title IX to its fullest, such as VSU President William McKinney establishing a special committee on the prevention of sexual assault, which includes the Title IX coordinator.

“Valdosta State University is committed to maintaining a fair and respectful environment for living, working and studying,” Gaskins said. “VSU adheres to all applicable laws and has been proactive in addressing issues of concerns related to Title IX.”

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