Bianca Cseke | The DePaulia
DePaul’s Student Government Association (SGA) spoke with Title IX Coordinator and Director of Gender Equity Kathryn Statz during Thursday’s general body meeting regarding new regulations from the Department of Education that the Title IX Office must enforce.
In August, the Department of Education released new guidelines that apply to “very specific types of cases,” according to Statz.
One of the new guidelines affects cases of sexual misconduct that occur off campus.
According to Statz, if, for example, a student reported that another DePaul student experienced sexual assault or harassment by another DePaul student after going “on spring break” that potentially violated DePaul’s current policies, the Title IX Office would “enforce its Student Code of Conduct, which includes policies preventing sexual misconduct [and] sexual harassment among students.”
“In my hypothetical, that student says he or she wants to move forward with an investigation, the other party is also a DePaul student, so we would investigate that case and if the parties cooperated and the student who made the report wanted to continue with the investigation … that would end with the student conduct process that many students go through for a variety of things, whether it’s an alcohol violation or any number of violations of the student code,” Statz said.
Under the new guidelines, Statz said the Title IX office would not investigate this incident since it occurred off campus and “outside of DePaul’s programs and activities.”
“[The Department of Education] would like us to stay out of the business of investigating that kind of conduct and leave that to law enforcement,” Statz said. “However, we still have our Student Code and if someone wanted to pursue that, we would still investigate that as a potential violation of DePaul policy regardless of … what the Department of Education says and they allow us to do that.”
The other new regulation applies to students that experience a form of sexual misconduct that Statz referred to as “quid pro quo harassment.” An example of this is if a student reports that they were forced to engage in sexual behavior with a professor to earn a high grade in the class, according to Statz.
“Right now, the way we would process something like that is we would investigate and then the Title IX coordinator … would render a decision based on the investigation,” Statz said.
Statz said the Title IX office would not hold a hearing or require the student to participate in one in this situation, citing the “power disparity” between the professor and the student.
Now, under the new regulations, a student would be required to take part in a hearing in this scenario for their protection, Statz said.
“So that of course is something that perhaps could have a chilling effect on someone wanting to report that conduct, but by the same token, there are times when students really want to face down a faculty member and say ‘You know what, I can’t believe you did this to me,’” Statz said.
Statz raised concerns about these new rules and how it could affect students’ willingness to report cases of misconduct.“
My biggest concern about them is that it could have a chilling effect on students reporting misconduct because of fears about how it will play out,” Statz said.
Besides SGA’s discussion with Statz, the organization addressed other items on its agenda.
Towards the beginning of the meeting, new SGA Vice President Watfae Zayed delivered the vice president’s report discussing constitutional revisions (CRV) and SGA’s GB retreat on Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The retreat will give members of SGA an opportunity to discuss ways to better serve the needs of DePaul students.
In this week’s president’s report, SGA President Alyssa Isberto explained that SGA will “officially” move its website to a DeHUB managed site, which SGA discussed in last week’s general body meeting.
On Oct. 7 at 6 p.m., SGA, along with DAB Social Change and Chicago Votes, will host an event called Listen Learn Change to discuss “the importance of speaking out and getting civically engaged.” Several SGA members will be panelists at the event.
In addition, SGA will collaborate with the Office of Multicultural Student Success (OMSS) to create and post videos on its social media platforms to show its support for undocumented students at DePaul for Day of Action to Support Undocumented Students on Oct. 13, which is “a day of action for immigrants.”
“I think this is a really great opportunity to stand with our undocumented students here at DePaul,” Isberto said.
Isberto and other SGA members attended a Joint Council meeting on Thursday. Members of the council asked about students’ experiences with remote learning this quarter and ways to improve for the winter.
“One of the things that I brought up was that students are really overwhelmed with a lot of course [work] and homework right now,” Isberto said.
Other students voiced their concerns regarding the challenges they have faced with online learning.
“I’m in that crowd of students who are just overwhelmed with coursework and struggling to just find time to complete it all especially since I also work outside of going to school,” said Carolina Aceves, SGA’s senator for intercultural awareness.
Towards the end of the meeting, Wesley Janicki, SGA’s executive vice president of operations, introduced amendments to the Resolution Concerning Increased Representation on the Strategic Resource Allocation Committee (SRAC), which establishes the yearly capital and operating budget for the university. Janicki said there were “a few minor changes” to the resolution but that it mostly remained unchanged. After a discussion between SGA’s members, the resolution passed.
SGA holds general body meetings Thursdays at 6 p.m. but will not have one this week due to midterms.