Title IX at Haverford College
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX") prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational programs or activities that receive federal funding, whether they take place in the facilities of a school or at an event sponsored by the school at another location.
While perhaps best known for its application to program equity, such as in athletics, Title IX also applies to sexual harassment (including sexual assault), as it has been determined in subsequent legal cases and regulatory interpretations that sexual harassment can prevent students from participating fully and equitably in educational opportunities. Sexual harassment was in fact explicitly recognized as a form of discrimination for purposes of Title IX compliance in 1992.
The Office of Civil Rights of the US Department of Education is responsible for overseeing compliance with Title IX, and has issued guidelines for institutions to help them comply with its principles. In the case of sexual harassment, the OCR guidelines require that once an institution has received notice of the possible sexual harassment of a student, it should take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate what occurred, take prompt and effective action to end the harassment if such is found to be the case, take steps to remedy the effects and to prevent it from occurring again. These steps are the school’s responsibility whether or not the student who was harassed makes a complaint or otherwise asks the school to take action; all reasonable steps to investigate and respond are still required. The OCR standard for “notice” is that a school may be held accountable for the failure to take appropriate steps if any person perceived to be a responsible school employee was put on notice and took no corrective action.
One important compliance requirement established by the OCR is that each school receiving federal funding should appoint at least one Title IX Coordinator; these individual are responsible or promoting an institutional environment that is free of gender bias and sexual harassment. To that end, they must be familiar with the school’s grievance procedures and be a resource for student enquiries on those procedures, monitor and evaluate compliance with Title IX reporting requirements, and oversee training to the community on the issue of sexual harassment. Haverford has two Title IX Coordinators, Lee Watkins, the Registrar, who concentrates mostly on issues of reporting, and Steve Watter, Dean of Student Life, who serves as a resource on educational outreach and procedural issues.