By Chloe Colmenares
Staff Writer and Social Media Coordinator
The university has updated its Title IX Policy on sexual harassment to meet the required changes made by the U.S. Department of Education.
All FDU students were advised of the updated policy to review by an email sent on Aug. 25 by Rose D’Ambrosio, vice president of human resources and university Title IX coordinator.
Changes to Title IX were announced by the Civil Rights Office on May 6 and all higher-education institutions were required to update policies, introduce new procedures and implement new training for those with Title IX responsibilities by Aug. 14.
FDU’s Title IX policy defines sexual harassment as “an individual engaging in unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to FDU’s education program or activity.”
Sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking now fall under the definition of sexual harassment. The changes to Title IX will require higher education institutions to hold live hearings and allow cross-examination by legal counsel or other party advisors during the adjudication process. However, students, staff and faculty can not cross-examine each other personally.
Other changes also extend colleges’ responsibility to investigating incidents that happen on and off college campuses. Any incidents that happen on school-sponsored trips or in sorority and fraternity houses fall under Title IX. However, allegations that happen during study-abroad programs are not included.
Schools must also designate and authorize at least one employee to act as the Title IX Coordinator. This employee is the main school contact who handles all Title IX complaints.
Schools must prominently display the contact information of the coordinator on their websites. Reports of sexual harassment can be made at any time and by any means that can reach the coordinator, including in-person, by mail, by telephone or email.
All employees (faculty and staff) are considered “responsible employees,” D’Ambrosio said via email, and are required to report any incidents that they become aware of immediately and directly to the Title IX Coordinator.
“The policy is explicit that all students and other members of the FDU community are encouraged to report instances of possible prohibited conduct to the Title IX Coordinator,” D’Ambrosio said.
The opinions on the new regulations have been mixed. Betsy DeVos, the Secretary of Education, commends the changes.
“This new regulation requires schools to act in meaningful ways to support survivors of sexual misconduct, without sacrificing important safeguards to ensure a fair and transparent process,” said DeVos in a statement.
On the other hand, there are those who see the new regulations as detrimental to victims. Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, condemned the changes.
“Survivors will be denied their civil rights and will get the message loud and clear that there is no point in reporting assault,” Graves said in a press release.
With the introduction of new regulations comes the requirement for students to complete additional training.
The training will not be too different for students who have completed online training courses in their freshman year. Returning students are required to retake the “Impressions” course on Blackboard Learn.
Here are some resources for those who are affected by sexual harassment.
University Confidential Resources
Student Health Services, Student Union Building, Second Floor, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. — (201) 692-2437
Student Counseling and Psychological Services (S-CAPS), Corner of Lone Pine Lane and Residence Drive (behind University Court 8) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday by appointment — (201) 692-2174
Bergen County Confidential Resources
• Holy Name Medical Center – Emergency Department Offers 24-hour emergency and confidential medical care, including sexual assault forensic examinations, pregnancy testing, screening and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, emergency contraceptives, 718 Teaneck Road Teaneck, NJ 07666 — (201) 833-3210
• Healing SPACE YWCA Bergen County Sexual Violence Resource Center offers support for survivors of sexual assault, their families and friends. A 24-hour crisis intervention hotline provides free and confidential assistance, and trained advocates provide counseling and medical and legal accompaniments to survivors. HealingSPACE also offers support groups, volunteer training, and educational programs for schools and businesses, as well as sponsors activities to 26 raise awareness about sexual violence. 214 State Street, Suite 207 Hackensack, NJ 07601 (201) 487-2227 – 24-hour hotline firstname.lastname@example.org
• Center For Hope and Safety Dedicated to assisting victims, and their children, of domestic violence and offers a 24-hour crisis hotline, an emergency shelter program, transitional housing, and other resources 24-hour Crisis Hotline: (201) 944-9600 — email@example.com