Title IX committee’s recommendations remain unfinalized

President Timothy Caboni sits down with the editorial board at the College Heights Herald discussing upcoming news for next semester on Aug. 24. at Student Publications.

Nicole Ziege

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story’s headline reflected that the Title IX committee had stalled the completion of its recommendations  This misleading headline, along with uses of the word “investigation” in the story have been updated for accuracy. The Herald regrets the errors. 

WKU’s report from its Title IX committee has not yet been finalized, despite President Timothy Caboni promising its completion in October.

Caboni announced a review of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, the Title IX Office and the Office of Student Conduct following reports of former student body president Andi Dahmer receiving harassment in April.

Caboni formed a Title IX committee to take on the review, led by associate sociology professor Lauren McClain and associate director of the Counseling & Testing Center Karl Laves. The committee consisted of nine members, including faculty, staff and a student.

The committee presented the draft of its recommendations to Caboni in August, and Caboni informed the Herald editorial board he expected the draft to be finalized in October.

“We’re working back and forth on not just that draft but my response to it,” Caboni said in the meeting. “My expectation is by early October we’ll have some announcements, not just on Title IX but on other changes and recommendations they’ve made.”

Bob Skipper, WKU’s director of public relations, said he suspected the draft was not yet finalized due to the need for the new Title IX federal regulations to be finalized, though he said he could not confirm that.

“The draft has not been finalized, and we cannot disclose any information until it is,” Skipper said.

The new Title IX federal regulations were proposed by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Nov. 18 and would include sexual harassment under Title IX violations.

The key provisions of the new rule emphasized taking “supportive measures” when investigating and responding to sexual harassment complaints, including academic course adjustments, counseling and no-contact orders.

The rule would also protect students accused of sexual harassment and assault by including a “presumption of innocence throughout the grievance process” and “an equal opportunity to review all evidence collected,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The proposed rule has not yet gone into effect.

McClain declined to comment further on the findings of the committee due to the delay in a final report, but she said the process was detailed.

“I’m extremely confident in our findings,” McClain said. “I’m very proud of the work that we did, and I think we did a very thorough job with our report.”

The Bowling Green Daily News reported McClain said she couldn’t go into details about the group’s work because she and other members signed confidentiality agreements.

The Herald reached out to Laves for comment and did not receive a response in time for publication.

The Herald reported Dahmer’s harassment allegations on April 24, which she made against eight Student Government Association senators. Some of the harassment she said she experienced included senators cursing at her in her office, calling her derogatory names and anonymously exchanging group messages with each other wishing her physical harm.

Dahmer filed a complaint with WKU’s Title IX Office but was told her case did not qualify as harassment, and her case went through the Office of Student Conduct. According to Caboni, the committee reviewed case files and worked with outside assistants to understand how the law and its implications work, as previously reported.

“I’m very thankful that these individuals, some of whom were not on the payroll in the summer, invested countless hours to be able to understand what is a complex and difficult issue for universities nationally,” Caboni said during the Herald meeting.

On Aug. 31, Dahmer filed a lawsuit against WKU, Caboni, assistant general counsel Andrea Anderson and director of student activities Charley Pride for verbal, mental and emotional abuse she said she suffered from their conduct after she said she experienced harassment as the former SGA president.

Dahmer also accused the defendants of discriminating against her based on sex, and not following university procedures such as the “Discrimination and Harassment Policy.” WKU denied all allegations in Dahmer’s lawsuit, calling them “maliciously untrue,” as previously reported by the Herald.

 

Nicole Ziege can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected] Follow Nicole Ziege on Twitter at @NicoleZiege.