Opinion: Letter to the UP community regarding Title IX

By Sandy Chung | October 12, 2018 12:03pm

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Sandy Chung Vice President for Human Resources & Title IX Coordinator for Compliance invites students to attend an event to update the UP community about projects being undertaken by the Title IX Advisory Committee.

Last week a current UP student authored an anonymous piece in The Beacon sharing a very personal story of sexual assault that occurred during high school. The student shared her perspective on ways the University can better its practices and policies around sexual and gender-based harassment, misconduct and violence.  To that student – thank you for demonstrating true courage in sharing your story.

Dear students and other members of the UP community,

We have heard difficult but important stories from survivors of sexual and gender-based harassment, misconduct and violence. We hear you. We see you. We thank you for the immeasurable courage you have demonstrated in sharing your stories.

UP’s Title IX team provides support to any UP student who has experienced sexual or gender-based harassment, misconduct or violence. Please know that many students have reached out to UP’s Title IX team about situations that occurred before they joined the UP community. UP provides support, resources and accommodations to all students. It is important to the University to support all students regardless of when or where the wrongful conduct occurred.

We encourage all students who need support to reach out to any member of the Title IX team. All members of the Title IX team are listed below. Our main contact information is (503) 943-8982 and titleix@up.edu. More information and resources, including answers to frequently asked questions, are available at the updated Title IX website – www.up.edu/titleix.

Please know that when a student contacts the Title IX team, the student can ask for support and resources, without sharing details about the situation that occurred. UP also has confidential resources, which are listed at www.up.edu/titleix.

In the story shared by the anonymous student via The Beacon, the student shared that she was sexually assaulted in high school when she was incapacitated by alcohol. When a person is incapacitated, we should take care of that person, not violate that person’s rights and bodily integrity.

The story shared by the anonymous student is an important reminder that it is critical that the entire UP community – indeed our entire society – develop a shared understanding about consent and engage in actions consistent with that understanding. As part of this important goal, this past summer the Title IX team made significant updates and revisions to UP’s Code of Student Conduct (which is located in Life on the Bluff). 

The Code of Student Conduct explains consent as follows:

Consent means informed, freely and voluntarily given mutual agreement understood by both parties and communicated by clearly understandable words or actions, to participate in each form of sexual activity. Consent will not be assumed by silence, incapacitation due to alcohol or drugs, unconsciousness, sleep, cognitive or mental incapacitation, physical impairment, or lack of active resistance.

Also, this fall semester, the Title IX team partnered with Student Affairs to increase bystander and consent education across the University community – with students, faculty, and staff. We have held and will continue to hold powerful sessions about consent, including reminders that:

  • Consent is never implied, and the absence of a “no” is not a “yes.”
  • People incapacitated by drugs or alcohol cannot consent.
  • Consent must be granted every time.
  • Consent must be obtained at each step of physical intimacy. If someone consents to one sexual activity, they may or may not be willing to go further. 

However, we know that there is more work to do, especially as it relates to support and education. The Title IX Advisory Committee consists of faculty, staff, and student representatives from ASUP and Students Against Sexual Assault (SASA). The Advisory Committee is working on developing more resources such as a confidential advocate program, working on improving Title IX policies and processes and working on improving and expanding education.

It is important to the Title IX team that students are actively engaged in these important conversations about how UP can best support students and combat sexual and gender-based harassment, misconduct and violence. We invite all students to join us next at 7:30 pm on Thursday, October 25, 2018 (at St. Mary’s), when SASA will be leading an event and has invited the Title IX team, Health & Counseling Center, and Campus Ministry to participate. As well, during early November, the Title IX team will hold an event to update the UP community about projects being undertaken by the Title IX Advisory Committee; this would be a great opportunity to provide feedback to the Advisory Committee.

Throughout my career, I have worked with many survivors of sexual and gender-based harassment, misconduct and violence. In the stories of survivors, I hear your pain and I am humbled by your courage, resilience and determination. Thank you for your voice and leadership – for reminding us with your powerful stories that Title IX is about fundamental human rights, equity and dignity.

My deep gratitude to the many UP students and community members who have shared your stories. Also, my gratitude to the many allies and bystanders (including the best friend of the anonymous student) who have taken actions consistent with the important value of caring for each other.

With your partnership and support, the Title IX team will continue the important work of caring for the members of our UP community.

My best regards,

Sandy Chung, Title IX Coordinator for Compliance

UP Title IX Team

- Sandy Chung, Title IX Coordinator for Compliance (responsible employee)

- Matt Rygg, Title IX Coordinator for Education (responsible employee)

- Meg Farra, Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students (responsible employee)

- Patrick Plaza, Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Administrative Processes (responsible employee)

- Bill Jenkins, Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Staff (responsible employee)

- Terry Favero, Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Faculty (responsible employee)

- Alexandra Hill, Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Faculty and Education (responsible employee)

- Shannon Mayer, Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Faculty (responsible employee)

- Megan Cohara, Wellness Education & Prevention Programs Coordinator (confidential resource)

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