The student newspaper at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recently published a feature article on Title IX at their school. The feature, however, only reveals how little is understood about the Title IX process, and how victims bring expectations to the process that are unreasonable.
Student Newspaper Investigates Title IX at College
The article, “They're Just Trying to Keep Us Quiet”: A Title IX Investigation, was published on April 15, 2019, in The Daily Nebraskan, the student newspaper at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The piece follows the stories of several anonymous alleged victims of sexual assault, rape, or harassment as they report their experiences to their school's Title IX office and other counseling services.
Each story is one of disappointment and confusion. The victims all relate how the Title IX officer that they spoke with was “unfeeling” and failed to provide the emotional support they needed. Many of the alleged victims did not like being pressured to recount details – often intense and traumatizing details – of their experience. The feeling of being “re-victimized” by the interviews conducted by the Title IX consistently came up. At one point, one of the narrators is left with “a feeling that the [Title IX] office was not there to protect her, but to defend the university.”
The feature article presents these stories as examples of how the Title IX system fails to protect victims of sexual abuse and harassment on campus. Like most of the advocates for the victims of sexual harassment, though, it fails to engage with both sides of the story, and only perpetuates misunderstandings about how Title IX works.
A Dangerous Lack of Engagement With the Big Picture
The article sympathizes with the alleged victim who feels like Title IX is there to protect the school, not her.
The article does not mention the fact that Title IX offices are there to protect their school. The job of the Title IX office is to ensure that the requirements of Title IX are satisfied to preserve the school's federal funding, not provide emotional support for victims.
Worse, though, is the unreasonable expectation that the alleged victims in the article seem to bring to the Title IX investigation. All of them seem to enter the Title IX office with the expectation that they would tell their story, and that the alleged perpetrator would immediately be arrested and brought to justice. In one story, the alleged victim “expected the rapist to be held accountable for his actions at the start of her process with the Title IX office,” as if the person she was accusing had no due process rights and should be convicted without being heard.
Perhaps worse, the feature piece justifies this expectation. In that same story, the alleged rapist was cleared of wrongdoing in both the Title IX investigation and a police investigation. Nevertheless, the article refers to him as a “rapist” no fewer than 7 times.