Goshen College’s Functional Immediate Response Student Safety Team (FIRSST) has submitted a list of demands to the college’s Title IX Committee concerning the school’s policies regarding sexual violence and assault.
According to Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA) from 2015, while in college, one in five college women experience physical sexual violence or assault and 43 percent experience some type of “violent or abusive dating behaviors.”
More than 40 percent of LBGTQIA+ or non-binary college students say they have “experienced intimate partner violence” and the website Know Your IX reports 1 in 20 college men will be physically sexually assaulted while attending college.
Increased awareness has led to a movement of preventing sexual violence and stopping those who commit sexual assault, but often, the efforts of schools and law enforcement leave the survivors unsupported.
Title IX is a law, passed in 1972, to address specific sex-based discrimination. Title IX reads: “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.”
Although this has been commonly related to gender-based discrimination in sports or in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, today Title IX also is used to address sexual violence, sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination through educational institutions.
In essence, Title IX ensures that when people are sexually assaulted or experience gender-based discrimination while attending school, they have resources provided by the school that ensure safety and the opportunity to continue their education.
Some of the requirements for colleges under Title IX that specifically refer to sexual violence and assault include having an established procedure to handle complains for all students, taking immediate action to ensure survivors can continue their education safely, providing resources free of charge to ensure students stay in school and providing protection from perpetrators.
“Having these requirements is an important part of Goshen’s credibility as an institution,” said Malcolm Stovall, a junior. “Everyone agrees that all people have the right to have their voices heard when something happens to them… We need to change, adapt and do the right things to meet those requirements and allow the voices of those victimized to be heard.”
FIRSST is best known for their efforts to make campus a safer place for everyone by providing the Safety Shuttle—free, anonymous transportation for students back to campus from unsafe or uncomfortable situations off-campus. They have also been involved in PIN (Prevention Intervention Network) trainings, an off-shoot of FIRSST, which is working on bystander training and awareness of sexual violence on campus.
Since this past fall, FIRSST has been extending their vision of campus safety by collaborating with Goshen College’s Title IX Committee to make sure that campus policies meet federal requirements and are supplying support to students.
“The purpose of the requests that we presented to the Title IX Committee is to have a survivor-safe and survivor-centered campus where survivors and victims have a variety of resources that they can choose from and are easily accessible,” said Hanna Hochstetler, a sophomore on the FIRSST Title IX committee.
Ken Newbold, the chair of the Title IX Committee, said “We stand with victims of sexual violence, those suffering in silence and all who are working to address this important issue in our society. Structures and procedures have been created to support victims in the healing process and to proactively combat sexual violence on campus.”
The members of the Title IX Committee are Ken Newbold, provost and executive vice president; Launa Rohrer, dean of students; Josh Gleason, athletic director; and Norm Bakhit, senior director of human resources.
The meetings between the Title IX Committee and FIRSST have only just begun, but they are already making changes on campus.
By early in February, the FIRSST proposed website changes will be applied. The other demands, according to Newbold, will be addressed by mid-March.
To see the complete list of the demands, visit gcfirsst.org.
In the meantime, the committee will keep engaging with FIRSST, the Gender Issues Task Force, faculty and other outside resources to continue gathering information and making plans for the future.
Newbold said, “We hold the safety, security and wellbeing of our campus at the pinnacle of our duties as a committee and seek to further advance collaborations focused on constructive means of enhancing and improving our Title IX compliance practices.”
More general information about Title IX can be found at KnowYourIX.org.