Administrators revamp Title IX policies

Trey Crumbie

Administrators are working to make sure WKU complies with federal Title IX policies to the fullest extent, which includes a revamped list of WKU employees designated to handle aspects related to Title IX.

President Gary Ransdell said there are multiple reasons for the more substantive Title IX policies.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Ransdell said. “But the impetus behind it is the federal government is raising the level of scrutiny and expatiation.”

The exact language of Title IX states “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excused from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”

The Title IX federal guidelines are not limited to equal opportunity in athletics regardless of gender. The guidelines include equal treatment in regards to admissions, recruitment, grading and the handling of sexual harassment.

“It has to do with treating people fairly,” Ransdell said. 

The United States Department of Education released a list of 55 colleges who were under investigation for how they handled sexual violence and harassment complaints in May. WKU did not appear on the list.

“I don’t want us to appear on any federal watch list for anything we didn’t do well,” Ransdell said.

Ransdell announced via email in July that Huda Melky, director of the Equal Opportunity Department, was appointed to Title IX coordinator.  More than 10 deputies, made up of administrators and staff, were also appointed to help with compliance. 

“They’ve been trained and they’re putting a lot of time and effort into making sure that we’re going to be compliant…” Ransdell said. 

The email also highlighted both non-anonymous and anonymous ways to report sexual assault incidents.

Deborah Wilkins, general counsel, said there have not been strict guidelines on how to handle sexual assault reports, but the report forms were recommended.

Richard Miller, vice provost and chief diversity officer, said Title IX compliance isn’t limited to just appointing officers, but also educating faculty, staff and students on the nature of sexual assault is crucial.

Wilkins and Miller are both appointed as Title IX deputies.

The education component will come in a multitude of ways, including a pamphlet and questionnaire for first-year students.

Ransdell said federal Title IX policies have undergone significant changes in a small amount of time.

“It’s a totally different world than what it was even a year ago, let alone two or three years ago, just because of the amount of effort that has been put into it,” he said.