Last week, Baylor University Title IX office coordinator Patty Crawford resigned after accusing the school of preventing her from fully performing her duties.
Crawford claims the Texas university has been letting football players and the athletic program act above the rules.
According to a Washington Post article, two former football players have recently been convicted of rape. Crawford’s claims sparked renewed interest in the office, its functions and its necessity.
Two weeks ago, the Student Government Association voted overwhelmingly in favor to show support for a mandatory student fee that would fund the Title IX Office. The fee, totaling $34 per student, would support the functions of the office, including sexual assault investigations. With this new policy came debate, praise and some outrage from students and faculty alike.
The Office of Civil Rights and Sexual Misconduct, commonly known as the Title IX Office, is dedicated to looking into cases of civil rights violations and cases of sexual misconduct. Each school, under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, is required to have an office like this on campus, open for students to use. It’s considered to be an integral part of student affairs.
Cases like Crawford’s stir up outrage because it shows how schools try to deny the rights of students to protect its reputation. Since its inception in 2014, the University of Maryland’s office has faced chronic underfunding.
The Title IX Office serves an important function in protecting students’ rights and physical safety at this university, said sociology adjunct lecturer Jenelle Clark, who teaches a class on contemporary social issues.
“On one hand, I think the fee is a good thing to have the office funded properly,” Clark said. “At the same time, I think it’s a sad thing that we need student fees to support the office. I think it’s a bad thing it wasn’t fully supported in the first place.”
Student Government Association President Katherine Swanson said that the University has put the office,“on the back burner.” She admitted the university hasn’t valued the office as much as it should, and noted the neglect is clear in the amount of days it takes to close cases.
Taylor Aguiar, SGA director of sexual misconduct prevention, also strongly supports the fee. She said the SGA supports the fee proposal because “they think this is the best thing for the university.”
“It’s a new office … had a hard time getting funds, “Aguiar said, acknowledging that the office is under resourced and that “administration needs to give more attention to it.”
Student reaction has been mixed. Many students don’t mind funding such an important office; however, many believe the office is being overlooked in favor of construction and other large projects.
Bernie Meadows, a fifth year senior majoring in chemistry and history, believes students already have enough fees, and since the Title IX Office is federally required, the school should pay for it.
“I know sexual assault is a real issue on college campuses, but it shouldn’t be forced upon the students to pay,” Meadows said. “(The school) should rework their funding or pull from other departments, such as the athletic department, instead of funding all the new sporting facilities on campus. They should pull from there and fund a worthwhile program for the school.”
University of Maryland students and faculty collectively agree that the office is hugely important and deserve proper funding. Crawford’s story and those like it are a warning against neglecting the office, but opinion remains split on whose responsibility it is to maintain and fund such offices.
Featured Photo Credit: Featured photo courtesy of Danny Molyneux on Flickr.
Sara Karlovitch is a freshman journalism and government and politics major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.