Op-Ed: Title IX support at DePaul

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DePaulia Staff

DePaul’s Title IX office is located at the university’s Lincoln Park Campus.

This Op-Ed was sent by DePaul Vice President of Student Affairs, Eugene L. Zdziarski, Ph.D. 

The Office of Gender Equity (OGE) supports all members of the DePaul community. Its staff’s work is guided by the following principles: care, trauma-informed response, due process, equity and privacy. Information recently shared in The DePaulia reminds us that, despite our best prevention efforts, sexual violence and harassment still occur on college campuses around the nation. 

The start of the school year is a critical time of year when more cases of sexual violence are reported on college campuses. DePaul highly encourages all individuals impacted by sexual violence to report to the university so they can receive the support they need. The Title IX website offers several ways for individuals to submit a report: via a webform, phone or email. 

What happens after a case is reported? I hope the following information sheds more light on DePaul’s process.  

It is important for the campus community to know that the OGE responds to every report received with a letter either through DePaul’s conduct management system or via email. Outreach is sent multiple times if a student does not open the initial letter, including through email and, at times, text messaging. 

An invitation to meet with OGE staff is offered to discuss options and choices as well as a direct referral to confidential support resources in the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness. Throughout the process individuals will have the opportunity to choose their level of involvement, even if it means not to participate.

The intake process is in depth and includes learning more about the incident and sharing what the investigative process looks like. This includes discussing the following steps: 

  • Drafting Allegations: Working collaboratively with OGE’s Case Manager to draft an allegation that accurately reflects the experience.
  • Notice of Investigation: A letter will be sent to the complainant and the respondent to inform them that OGE has initiated an investigation regarding an alleged violation of one of DePaul’s policies under the purview of OGE. 
  • Investigative interview: Both parties will be invited to meet with one or both OGE investigators to provide a narrative interview. Both parties can also recommend witnesses and provide evidence. Prior to the start of an investigative interview, the interviewee is required to review and sign an overview and expectations document that outlines the details of the process. In addition, before an interview is concluded, it is standard procedure for the investigator(s) to explain the next steps in the process to the interviewee.
  • Investigative File Review: Both parties may review the investigative file and provide a response. 
  • Determination: In employee cases, the Title IX Coordinator makes a determination about whether a policy was violated utilizing the preponderance of evidence (more likely than not) standard. Complainants are informed of the outcome of the case. For student cases, the Dean of Students Office, often through the University Hearing Board, is responsible for making a determination of whether there has been a policy violation through the Student Conduct Process. It is not within the scope of the OGE’s responsibilities to impose corrective action following a determination. 

OGE staff are committed to monitoring and overseeing overall campus-wide implementation of Title IX at DePaul. They are an important resource at DePaul and serve the university’s faculty, staff and students with professionalism and care. The Title IX site has many resources for students, including confidential reporting resources and details on the rights and options for survivors of sexual violence, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking.