Staff, student leadership and most importantly students are not prepared or educated for Title IX mandatory reporting on campus. Staff were notified of their new role at different points before the beginning of the school year and many were caught off guard. After receiving limited training on how to deal with the wide variety of conversations that could arise surrounding sexual violence, staff and faculty are expected to help navigate and speak with students while also reporting sensitive details of their conversations to higher authorities. Some staff feel this requirement will bring more awareness around sexual violence, while others fear students will find solace in confidential outlets and stop coming to faculty.
Student leadership received initial training at their meetings before the general student body arrived, but leaders are mixed on how prepared they feel. Most understand the definition of Title IX and the responsibilities of being a Title IX reporter, but they desire to learn more. Resident assistants and small group coordinators have traditionally been the support team for students in the trenches of day to day college life. This year dynamics are different. Students can no longer expect complete confidentiality, now they may be directed towards the counseling department or receive a letter of investigation.
Ultimately, it is the average student who is entering this year blind. While many faculty alerted their students to staff’s new position as mandatory reporters, most students are unaware student leadership also reports. While mandatory reporting may help a victim of sexual violence find justice and healing, students have a right to fully understand what can and cannot be reported and by which individuals. A proposed solution is educating freshman during Freshman Seminars. A week devoted to the ins and outs of sexual violence, how to report, what Title IX is and who on campus is a mandatory reporter can be an effective start. The graduating class of 2016 may have been unprepared for this year’s changes, Whitworth should not allow the entering class of 2020 to also be blindsided.
Editorials in the “In the Loop” section reflect the majority opinion of the Editorial Board, comprised of five editors.