For a couple of weeks this summer, I have been able to sit in on meetings of UNC’s Title IX task force as part of my job at the Women’s Center. The task force is charged with reviewing the current policy and process for handling student complaints of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, and I have been taking notes at the meetings.
Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at schools and universities. Title IX is usually associated with the concept of gender equity in athletics, it is much broader, addressing all forms of sexual harassment. More information about Title IX at UNC is available at the Campus Conversation About Sexual Assault website. In light of recent instances of sexual misconduct on campus, the Equal Opportunity/ ADA office appointed the task force of twenty-two representatives from the University to make recommendations for any necessary changes to the sexual misconduct policy.
From the perspective of an intern at the Carolina Women’s Center, sitting in on the Title IX meetings has been interesting not only to see the attention being given to sexual misconduct, but also to see the importance of intersectionality in the policy. One of the reasons the CWC collaborates so often with other centers and departments around campus is that gender is one aspect of an individual’s identity, and it interacts with other aspects of identity, like race, sexual orientation, and class. Because the Title IX policy will not exist in a vacuum, it must be designed to help individuals manage unique situations related to intersectionality.
The challenges of writing recommendations for the Title IX policy do not stop with issues of intersectionality. As an MPA student, it has been interesting to see challenges in the process I hadn’t thought about before such as giving careful attention to the language of the policy and managing group dynamics, not to mention communicating with constituents each step of the way about the process. I don’t know how one even begins to take on such a complicated and significant policy, but I am excited to see the recommendations from the Title IX committee!